Flower industry push for increased cargo capacity ahead of Valentine’s


Kenya Flower Council CEO Clement Tulezi. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

The flower industry has raised the alarm over high freight charges and reduced cargo space that could deny them the chance to make money from the lucrative Valentine’s period.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC) chief executive Clement Tulezi said the sector was heading to the peak season, especially in the month of February with the issues of cargo space being an Achilles heel.

“The only alternative is to use chartered flights but the charges are prohibitive, leaving the sector players in a catch-22 situation,” noted Mr Tulezi.

He revealed that the charge for a kilo of flowers was about Sh600 across the board, saying the rates were unaffordable.

“The market prices have remained constant over a long period with the freight charges tripling.”

He said that the current cargo capacity was only 70 tonnes a week, against the harvested 5,000 tonnes weekly.

“The tonnage being exported weekly is a drop in the ocean and a detriment to the vibrant sector,” said Mr Tulezi.

He said the demand for flowers, especially in the European market was on the rise, regretting that the cargo capacity had greatly reduced.

Mr Tulezi was warned that if the current crisis was not addressed, flower growers were likely to destroy 30 per cent of the harvested flowers.

“Concerned growers have been calling my office seeking for solutions but I have none, I have been engaged in high-level consultation, without a breakthrough,” added the CEO.

He said growers were getting small margins from the sale of the flowers and were dependent on exporting huge volumes which was not the case.

His concerns were echoed by the Naivasha-based Maridadi flowers boss, Jack Kneppers, who termed the cost of charting flights as “ridiculous.”

“Exporting flowers to Europe is not tenable. We are keeping our fingers closed hoping for the best,” he told Business Daily.

He said the flower farm was producing about 230,00 stems a day, with the hopes of cashing in on the Valentine sales.

The floriculture industry in Kenya provides direct employment to an estimated 150,000 people, majority women, and overall creates employment for more than a million people indirectly, impacting in excess of 6 million lives.

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