• Kenya is among leading producer of flowers
• It’s however facing stiff competition from Ethiopia
The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) said the country could double its flower production if the government accords the sector full support.
The council identified failure to remit VAT refunds running into billions of shillings and lack of incentives to farmers as among the major gaps in the sector.
This came as farmers through the Council expressed confidence that they would export more flowers ahead of Valentine despite the cold weather occasioned by the ongoing rains.
The Council chief executive Clement Tulezi said despite the sector being among the major foreign exchange earners and job creators after tea, the government has continued to ignore it.
“Every now and then the government is introducing new taxes or directives and this does not augur well with investors in terms of planning,” he said.
Tulezi that unlike tea, coffee and sugarcane farmers who every year receive subsidies from the government, horticulture farmers have never been benefited from such incentives.
“For years the horticulture sector which is one of the leading foreign exchange earners has been ignored by the present and previous regime thus stagnating growth,” he said.
Tulezi in an interview decried the move by the government to cap payment of VAT refunds to Sh10 million per month despite the National Treasury owing farmers over Sh13 billion.
He said failure to repay the refunds has seen growth in the sector that employs thousands stagnate as the future was unclear.
Nonetheless, he projected a rosy Valentine despite the cold weather that had seen an increase in some fungus diseases affecting production.
He said Kenya has been exporting 3,400 tonnes per week of flowers with the cargo expected to hit 4,000 tonnes by the end of the week.
“The cold weather is affecting production of flowers but the farmers are meeting demand despite the harsh economic times in the EU which is our main market,” he said.
Jack Kneppers who is the MD Maridadi flower farm said that the cold weather in Europe could be a challenge ahead of Valentine.
“The heavy rains in the country has affected production though the prices in the EU market have stabilised for the last couple of years,” he said.