Small flower farms lose 20pc produce on tight export space

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

Small-scale flower farms are throwing away a fifth of their daily produce meant for export on the back of a shortfall in freight capacity, with big players locking them out through advance bookings on airlines.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC) chief executive officer Clement Tulezi says the freight capacity at the airport remains low as flight operations are yet to fully recover from interruptions caused by Covid-19 in 2020.

Mr Tulezi said available freight space stands at 3,500 tonnes against the required 5,000 tonnes a week.

“The larger players are able to lock space by pre-booking with the airlines and the freight forwarders. So space could be found for them but for the smaller ones who probably are not able to export every day, it becomes a big challenge to access that space,” said Mr Tulezi.

He added that the perfect scenario is to have more foreign flights coming in throughout the year. However, this could be restricted by the interests of the national carrier, which ideally have to be protected.

“That is the reality and this happens not just in Kenya but everywhere else. So it is not possible that all the foreign airlines will be given a free movement into Kenya.

But we believe that when we really need that capacity, the government can allow more foreign carriers to come in and lift what we need,” he said.

Mr Tulezi was speaking on Monday during this year’s International Flower Trade & Exhibition that is taking place after a three-year break due to Covid-19.

The multi-billion shilling flower show brings together stakeholders from both local and international exhibitors and is where major deals in the industry are cut.

Europe accounts for nearly 70 percent of Kenya’s cut-flower exports and the limited cargo capacity is making it difficult for Kenya to serve this market, threatening thousands of jobs.

Kenya’s floriculture industry enjoys a relatively long high season, which runs from September through May, peaking in February as flower farmers maximise on the festive season, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

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