Economy

US agency lifts ban on Kenya carnation imports

Oserian 3

Oserian Flower Farm greenhouse attendant tends to carnations. Oserian is the largest Carnation exporter worldwide. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Summary

  • The United States has allowed the importation of previously banned carnation from Kenya without any restrictions in what local flower farmers say is a hugely welcome boost to the horticultural market.
  • The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said it would allow the importation of carnation cuttings from Kenya.

The United States has allowed the importation of previously banned carnation from Kenya without any restrictions in what local flower farmers say is a hugely welcome boost to the horticultural market.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said it would allow the importation of carnation cuttings from Kenya without post-entry quarantine requirements as long as they will pose no disease or pests threats to the US.

“We are notifying the public that we are updating the US Department of Agriculture Plants for Planting Manual to allow the importation of Dianthus spp. cuttings (carnations) from Kenya without postentry quarantine, subject to certain conditions,” said the APHIS in the notice.

“We are taking this action in response to a request from this country and after determining that the cuttings can be imported, under certain conditions, without resulting in the introduction into, or the dissemination within, the United States of a plant pest.”

Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya CEO Okisegere Ojepat termed the approval a landmark move for Kenya saying it would expand the basket of cut flowers exported to the US boosting jobs and income for Kenyans.

“We are excited that we have a new market for carnations,” he told the Business Daily in an interview. “We will be able to sell more flowers into the American market bringing more income and jobs.”

The main cut flowers grown in Kenya are roses, hypericums, alstroemeria, carnations gypsophila and lilies, among others.

The US said its scientists completed the approval process for the carnations in response to a request by Kenya through the National Plant Protection Organisation.


"Careful examination determined that the carnation cuttings would pose no additional risk of pest introduction into the United States and could be safely imported without the post-entry quarantine requirement if certain conditions are met," said the US.

The import conditions according to USDA include requirements for registering places where the carnation cuttings will be produced within Kenya.

"Those places would have strict requirements for safeguarding the sites with well-maintained insect-proof screening and other pest risk mitigation measures," said the agency.

Additionally, the cuttings would need to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration attesting that the plants were produced in a production site registered with the NPPO of Kenya and were grown under conditions specified by the US.

Kenya has been seeking the approvals since 2019.

Kenya exported 170,000 tonnes of flowers in 2020. Over 70 per cent were sold in the European Union through the Netherlands and United Kingdom, according to the Kenya Flower Council.

The Netherlands is a major player for trading Kenyan flowers, but in recent years there has been an effort to diversify market access.

Emerging markets such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Japan and Russia have

shown a rise in participation, and Australia are quickly gaining importance, and the US is now on the map as a destination.

Access to the US market has been limited by logistics, particularly shipping time and freight costs but the introduction of direct passenger flights from Kenya to the US helped overcome this hurdle, but wider freight capacity is still needed according to players.