The flower industry in Kenya managed to bloom in the difficult period of Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 earning the country Sh.104Billion, Mr. Clement Tulezi has said.
These earnings then grew slightly in 2021 to earn the country Sh.110Billion. This is after the volume of flowers exported increased by 33 per cent from 287.8 million kilos in 2020 to 373.78 million kilos in 2021.
Mr. Tulezi was speaking in Naivasha on Thursday during the launch of a new product known by the brand name as Dagonis to be used to control powdery mildew disease in flowers. The product was developed by the BASF East Africa Company after research that took 11 years and meets the required international standards for export flowers.
He said the new product which even exceeds the international market requirements is timely and a relief to the flower sector where the powdery mildew disease has been a big challenge throughout the year thus impeding production.
Mr. Tulezi urged all flower and other horticultural products producers to observe the highest international standards in order for the Kenyan products to remain competitive in the market as the country seeks to diversify her exports in the sector. He cited a recent case where avocadoes from Kenya were removed from shelves in Norway for not meeting the standards.
He also called upon the Government to review the 16 per cent tax on pesticides introduced last year, saying it was hurting the industry which was still smarting from the global economic crunch brought about by the effect of Covid-19.
Tulezi further lamented that the cost of energy in the country which is the highest in the region was also hurting the horticultural sector and urged the government to intervene.
“Compared to our neighbours like Uganda and Ethiopia who is our biggest competitor in the industry, the cost of energy in Kenya is so high affecting the competitiveness of our industry,” he said.
The horticulture sub-sector which includes vegetables, flowers, fruits and medicinal aromatic plants is among the key sectors of agriculture in Kenya contributing to foreign exchange, household incomes and food and nutrition security. It employs about 6.5 million Kenyans directly and indirectly.
The floriculture sector alone directly impacts the livelihoods of over two million Kenyans and has employed over 200,000 people. Production is centered on the Great Rift Valley, in Lake Naivasha, Mount Kenya and Nairobi among other areas from the country.
The total area under horticulture is estimated at 496,062 Ha with production of 7.9 million Metric Tons. Roses accounted for the largest share of flowers export earnings with the value of exports standing at Shs. 71.8 billion from 70.8 billion in 2020, followed by mixed flowers with 17.8 billion and cuttings Shs. 15.8 billion, compared to Shs. 94 billion and Shs. 13 billion earned in 2020 respectively.
By Mabel Keya – Shikuku