It’s yet another year of doing business and for the flower industry this is the supreme season, the Valentine’s Day. Kenya is leading in the export of flowers globally. It is believed that for every 10 stems sold in Europe three stems are from Kenya. Indeed, the flower industry has made significant strides in enhancing sustainable markets.
Kenya continues to diversify to other markets outside Europe. The diversification of marketing models from Auctions to direct market has grown extensively targeting over 60 destinations. New markets like Japan, US, Asia are growing fast. The industry is looking to the entry of Delta airlines to Kenya which will offer a direct freight to the US. On the other hand, the Russian market demand and returns have declined due to the crisis being experienced in Russian Federation affecting the markets globally.
This year the Valentine’s Day is special as Kenya Flower Council (KFC) is celebrating 20 years since inception. The celebration gives KFC a unique opportunity to appreciate the Association, its esteemed members, partners, friends and the numerous milestones achieved over the past 20 years. Over the two decades, KFC has grown in stature providing exemplary services in industry representation, promotions and market access pegged onto an internationally accredited quality assurance scheme. To mark this important milestone, KFC will amplify on it's activities especially during Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Secretary’s Day, IFTEX show among others throughout 2016.
Moreover, the revitalization of the Kenya Horticultural Council (KHC) could not have come a better time than now augmenting the horticulture sector cohesion. This will be a vehicle to strengthen the horticulture industry voice and enhanced market access.
The Kenyan flower has gained reputation as a high quality product. Growers are endowed with knowledge and experience in growing as well as expertise of marketing. We are happy to inform you that growers continue to proactively strive for responsible and safe production of cut flowers in, while protecting the natural environment and promoting the welfare of all farm staff. I am glad to note that the number of dynamic small scale holders in Kenya has grown immensely in the past few years majoring in varieties of summer flowers which are labor intensive.
Looking at the industry performance; after a period of rapid growth between 2000 and 2010, when the flower exports rose from 40 to 120,000 tonnes, equivalent to an annualized growth of almost 12%, exports fell back to a growth of less than 2% in the following years. It is only in 2014 that we began to see momentum returning. Official statistics indicate that the flower industry earned the Country Kshs 54.6 billion in 2014; with exports volumes totaling 136, 601 metric tonnes. We are still waiting for the 2015 statistics to be released.
Moreover, all the good treads has not been achieved without challenges for example accumulation and delay in paying VAT refunds and fluctuation of foreign currencies. The climate change with the rains being experienced more frequently has led to low production and also more attention to pests and diseases.
The entry of County Governments has been exemplified by multiplicity and duplication of taxes and levies, making it more expensive to do business and even discouraging to new investors. The KFC continues to relentlessly engage with governments at both County and State level to pursue ways and means of easing the burden of doing business for a hard working fraternity of breeders, propagators, growers, consolidators along with their partners in products and service providers.
Going forward 2016 will be a tough year for the industry as we embrace the changes that came with devolution, the up-coming general elections and unpredictable weather.
We look forward to an improved business environment for the floriculture industry in Kenya which translates into industry growth, especially expanded current and emerging markets.