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February 21, 2019

Flower production declines in Naivasha due to heavy rains

The cost of labour is the biggest challenge in flower production.
The cost of labour is the biggest challenge in flower production. Photo/FILE

Flower production has fallen by over 20 per cent due to the ongoing rains that have been pounding Naivasha and its environs.

According to Van Den Berg flower farm, the drop has been due to the cold weather associated with the rains. The farm, located along Moi South Lake road, has a workforce of 1,200 workers and produces more than 600,000 roses daily.

According to the MD Johan Remeeus, the farmers are now experiencing the effects of the heavy rains which have been pounding the lakeside town for a couple of weeks.

“Flowers do well in warm conditions but due to the cold weather caused by the heavy rains we have seen production fall by around 20 per cent,” he said.

On the market, Remeeus said for the last five years the price of roses has remained constant against a rise in production cost.

He noted that the once lucrative Russian market is no longer performing well due to its weak currency compared to the Euro, which flower farmers trade in.

“The cost of labour continues to be the biggest challenge in flower production,” he said.

Speaking at the farm, Remeeus said Ethiopia is Kenya’s largest competitor in the region due to subsidies offered by their government.

“We hoped that the just ended World Trade Organisation meeting would have addressed the issue of subsidies for fair playing ground but this was never to be,” he said.

However, he said the cost of electricity has come down in the last two months as promised by the government.

The farm’s human resource manager George Onyango called on the national and county governments to urgently address the issue of lease.

He noted that the issue is causing anxiety among many farmers as the 99 lease had expired with some counties wanting to take over the land.

Onyango said double taxation by counties is also affecting flower farms with many incurring huge losses.

“Farmers passing one county to the other are being taxed twice and this is unfair practice that should be dealt with,” he said.

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