Poor infrastructure and double taxation by national and county governments are posing major challenges to Kenya's flower farmers and undermining the industry's growth.
“We have seen the ministry of tourism get tax incentives but the floriculture sector which is second in terms of foreign exchange earner has been forgotten,” Kenya Flower Council chief executive Clement Tulezi said.
He called on the two arms of government to harmonize taxation regimes and challenged the national government to give flower farmers tax incentives for the industry to thrive further.
Data provided by the Agriculture Food Authority show for the year ending December 2017, receipts from flower sales grew Sh11.4 billion or 16.1 per cent to Sh82.2 billion. Cut flowers currently bring in 71.32 per cent of the horticulture revenue which stood at Sh115.32 billion during the review period.
The growth was driven by an increase in export volumes which rose by 26.3 million metric tonnes during the review period to 159.96 million tonnes.
Higher revenue has also been attributed to an increase in demand for flowers in 2017, especially during the valentines day period. This, according to Tulezi will see flower volume exported to the EU market and earnings rise by 20 per cent this financial year.
"This years’ Valentine was the best in the last five years due to the volume of flowers exported.This will be a good year for us" he said.
He also announced the council has embarked on flower promotions campaign with Kenya Airways ahead of the direct flights to the US with a view of accessing the new market.
Female flower farmers
Tulezi was addressing the press at Lake Naivasha Country Club in Naivasha during a meeting with HIVOs an organization based in Netherlands that has been fighting for women rights in the farms.
“We have been informed that some farms are still oppressing women and we have to admit that there are few rotten apples in the sector some of whom are not out members,” he said.
HIVOs executive director Edwin Huizing said that they were working in eight countries with a view of addressing harassment and better working conditions for women. Cases of sexual harassment, low wages and marginalization had been reported among some growers in the country.
“We are working with consumers in the EU market to influence them to pay more for flowers so that workers in the floriculture sector can earn more,” he said.