Flower farms in Naivasha back in business
According to a report carried in Kenya’s The Star Newspaper, Naivasha flower growers have recalled more than 90 percent of their workforce as exports to various European Union markets picked up in the last one month despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the farmers, exports have risen from 15 to 60 percent as demand for the flowers continues to rise.
Production is still not back to optimum following the massive losses made at the height of the pandemic. One of the leading farmers Jack Kneppers said they are currently shipping out 180,000 stems of roses daily from zero two months ago.
Kneppers who is the MD of Maridadi flower farm said all his 700 workers are back.
“On a normal day we export around 220,000 stems of roses but some of our greenhouses are under maintenance but all the daily harvest is being shipped out,” he said.
He added that they are carefully observing laid out Covid-19 protection measures like wearing of masks, monitoring their workers temperatures and hand washing.
On VAT refunds, he was disappointed hat KRA had made minimal refunds which has not helped improve their financial positions.
“We are happy that the market is finally reopening and nearly 75 percent of cargo planes are back to operation but many farmers are not operating fully due to the losses incurred,” he said.
Lake Naivasha Growers Group (LNGG), an organization that brings together the top flower farms in Naivasha said there is hope for the sector after a toiugh period.
CEO Joseph Kariuki, said the EU market is opening up after the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that members of the organisation accounted for 70 percent of Kenya's flower exports.
“Currently our exports stand at 60 percent despite challenges like high flight charges as many airlines are not operational and we hope that this will change with time,” he said.
Kenya Plantations and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) Naivasha branch secretary-general Ferdinand Juma accused some farms of using the pandemic to change workers employment contracts.
“We understand that the pandemic has left farmers incurring huge losses but it’s illegal to review the employee's contract based on the current crisis,” he said.
BY THE STAR