Kenya: "Cut flower sector wilting under new rules, competition"

Hopes by Kenya’s flower growers to exploit the lucrative United States market and stop dependence on the European market will not bear much fruit despite the recent launch of direct flights between Nairobi and New York.

In spite of optimism and excitement after national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) started direct flights to the US in October, the airline’s business strategy of focusing on passengers as opposed to cargo has dashed the hopes of the flower industry of targeting the market that has remained elusive.

This is bad news for the industry which despite being the second leading foreign exchange earner after tea, is grappling with a myriad of challenges that are threatening the country’s position as Africa’s leading producer of cut flowers.

The sector is currently dealing with challenges ranging from a fertiliser importation crisis, increase in input taxes, delays in tax refunds, stringent phytosanitary requirements in the European Union (EU) market, new demands on fumigation by key market Australia to intensifying competition from emerging flower producers like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

Read more at The East African (Njiraini Muchira)

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