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Delays at port spark fears of fertiliser shortage

Kenya Flower Council CEO Clement Tulezi.
Kenya Flower Council CEO Clement Tulezi. KFC warned of a looming crisis if the State doesn’t address inspection delays at port. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Flower grower and exporter Oserian Development Company has raised alarm over fertiliser shortage in the country which has been caused by delays at the Mombasa port.

The delays are as a result of new tough measures on local inspection of all fertilisers, introduced by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).

Oserian Saturday said the delays are grinding company’s operations to a near halt with devastating effects.

“The flower industry has this year already been hit by bad weather, pest and disease pressure, high cost of production as a result of increased fuel cost and fluctuating markets. This bottleneck within our borders will only make things worse,” said Mary Kinyua, director of human resources and administration at Oserian.

The alarm comes days after the sector’s umbrella body Kenya Flower Council (KFC) warned of a looming crisis if the government doesn’t address the current delays.

“We are doing everything possible to support our members in unlocking the situation as soon as possible to avert total collapse of the industry,” said KFC chief executive Clement Tulezi in a statement to members.

KFC said it appreciate the controls Kebs is putting in place to ensure quality and conformity to standards, but the process should be quick and facilitative to the industry.

Earlier in the week, the government directed that fertiliser imports be expeditiously inspected at the port of Mombasa to alleviate the shortage that has seen an increase in prices of the commodity.

Through the Public Service Deputy Head and Multi-Agency Taskforce on enforcement of Standards chairman Wanyama Musiambo, the government also directed the KFC to inform the taskforce of any unnecessary delays to facilitate decisive action against officials frustrating the government’s efforts to rid the country of counterfeit and substandard goods.

While KEBS has traditionally certified the quality of fertilisers in the country of origin before shipment, it has now introduced a new set of rules which include re-inspection of all consignments at the port of entry as it pursues to tame proliferation of counterfeits.

The new clearing process is now taking up to two months before the release of consignments.

Ms Kinyua said fertiliser suppliers are incurring up to Sh2 million daily in demurrage which they are passing to them, further pushing the cost of producing flowers up.

Oserian is predicting a dip in yields and increase in flower prices, which it said will be the case among other growers as they seek to compensate their margins, making the country’s flowers expensive at the global market.

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