Small flower farms lose 20% of their produce to tight export space


Small flower farms lose 20% of their produce to tight export space

Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council. PICTURES | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Small flower farms are throwing away a fifth of their daily production for export due to a lack of freight capacity, with big players blocking them with advance bookings on airlines.

Kenya Flower Council (KFC) chief executive Clement Tulezi said cargo capacity at the airport remains low as flight operations have yet to fully recover from disruptions caused by Covid-19 in 2020.

Mr Tulezi said available cargo space stands at 3,500 tonnes compared to the required 5,000 tonnes per week.

“The bigger players are able to lock in space by pre-booking with airlines and freight forwarders. So we could find space for them, but for the smaller ones who are probably not able to export every day, accessing that space becomes a big challenge,” said Tulezi.

READ ALSO: Horticultural sector targets nine new export markets

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

“That’s the reality and it’s not just happening in Kenya but everywhere else. It is therefore not possible for all foreign airlines to enjoy free movement in Kenya.

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

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

The multi-billion shilling flower show brings together local and international exhibitor stakeholders and is where major industry deals are done.

Europe accounts for almost 70 percent of Kenya’s cut flower exports and limited freight capacity makes it difficult for Kenya to serve this market, threatening thousands of jobs.

ALSO READ: Flower companies scramble for limited cargo space at Kenya Airways

The floriculture industry in Kenya enjoys a relatively long high season, which runs from September to May, peaking in February when flower growers maximize the festive season, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

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Terisa K. Carn