• Floriculture sector is second foreign earner after tea
•Naivasha has more than 60 flower farms
Export of flowers from Kenya to the European Union through the sea is steadily picking up, the Kenya Flower Council said yesterday.
The shift to shipping rather than air freight flowers has seen the number of containers rise from the initial one to between 40 to 50 containers a month.
The Council now projects that the number of containers being shipped could go up as more farmers switch to the transport mode that takes more volumes at a lower cost.
KFC chief executive Clement Tulezi said the use of sea freight for flower exports has turned out to be a major blessing for the sector forcing cargo airlines to review freight charges..
“We are currently shipping out ten 40ft containers every week of flowers to Europe, an increase from one container a year ago and plans are underway to increase this,” he said.
He said the only challenge with shipping is that flower farmers have to use extra-packaging materials to ensure that the produce arrived in Europe while still fresh.
On fertiliser availability, overall, the cost and availability of fertiliser continues to be a challenge due to the Russia and Ukraine war, with small scale farmers hardest hit.
“Large scale farmers who use nitrates can be able to stock for a year unlike small-scale farmers who buy this type of fertiliser when they need it,” he said.
He said the sector is however stabilising after the effects of Covid-19, financial crisis and the war in Ukraine.
Tulezi said despite being in the low season, farmers are currently exporting 4,300 tonnes of flowers every week down from 5,000 tonnes in July.
Large scale farmer, Jack Kneppers of Maridadi farm in Naivasha said that the cost of fertiliser had dropped by around eight percent in the last one month.
He said that even though farmers are yet to fully recover, things looked positive despite the high cost of production.
“We have seen freight charges start to stabilise in the last two months, demand is high in Europe and the prices of flowers are reasonably okay,” he said.