The Kenya Flower Council has reported that flower production in the country has suffered a huge blow following the advent of El nino rains. According to the council’s CEO Ms Jane Ngige, production has reduced since October with the rains making it hard for growers to transport their product.
Ngige said in a statement that a good number of farms were enjoying good harvests before the rains but now had to deal with diseases such as Botrytis and Downy mildew.
“Many farms are ready to harvest the rain water into their reservoirs. But we also have to prepare to deal with disease outbreaks like Botrytis and Downy Mildew which become prevalent during such weather,” she told a Kenyan local daily the Star newspaper.
The El nino challenges come just a few months after the Kenyan Floriculture Industry had to deal with stalled VAT refunds and compensation for the General System of Preference duties paid to the European Union in 2014 when Kenya was denied the duty free quota free access to the bloc.
Other challenges currently facing flower growers in Kenya include rise in the cost of doing business, proliferation of multiple and double taxes, ratification of the economic partnership agreements between the East African Community and the EU and difficulties in the diversification of products.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, cut flower exports rose by 11.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2015 to 34,827.29 metric tonnes from 31,170.48MT exported in a similar period last year.
The volume, however, reduced in the second quarter to 29,357.85MT from 30,649.35MT recorded in the same period in 2014.
Ms Ngige pointed out that the council is making efforts in searching for newer markets and that Kenyan flowers are now being exported to 50 different destinations. The country currently commands a 35 per cent market share of flower exports to the EU.