Covid-19 resurgence in Europe worries horticulture traders


Workers pack baby flowers for export market. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenyan fresh produce exporters are concerned about the possibility of a second Covid-19 lockdown in Europe, which would hurt their sales ahead of the peak season.

The head of the Horticulture Directorate Benjamin Tito said that should the UK and other European countries—which are major markets for fresh produce—go into new lockdowns due to rising Covid-19 cases , local producers will face devastating consequences, especially if this entails closure of the European airspace.

Th British Cabinet has been holding emergency meetings following a spike in cases that are projected to hit 50,000 daily, with the government advising its citizens to work from home.

“We are keenly monitoring the development in the UK, if it will involve the cancellation of flights, then it might have a huge impact on our horticulture sector,” said Mr Tito.

He noted that if the airspace will remain open for flights, then impact on Kenya will not be as bad as feared.

New cases of coronavirus have started surging in Europe in a number of countries including France, Portugal and Spain, where tighter measures are now being imposed to curb the spread.

Spain has already imposed a partial lockdown at its capital Madrid, affecting over a million residents of the metropolis.

The first round of lockdowns in Europe saw the fresh produce sector in Kenya hit hard by cancellation of orders, costing the economy billions of shillings.

The flower sector was the hardest hit as the world’s largest auction in Amsterdam was shut during the pandemic. Kenya sells nearly all of its flowers through this market.

The auction has, however, been fully opened following the easing of the Covid-19 containment measures that had been put in place earlier.

September marks the beginning of high season for the country’s horticulture produce to European market, which accounts for over 60 percent of the total exports.

Earnings from horticulture in the first eight months of the year rose to Sh101 billion from Sh97 billion in the same period in 2019.