The number of flowers produced by small-scale farmers in Kenya has been on the rise in recent years, but few are able to sell them in the export market due to high freight charges.
It costs up to 400 shillings (4 U.S. dollars) per kilo to ship flowers to America or the European Union via Schiphol in the Netherlands, according to the Kenya Flower Council (KFC), an amount that is too high for smallholder farmers.
"Production of arabicum is common among small-scale summer flower growers in Kenya because it is an easy outdoor product. However, the supply to the market has kept on reducing over the years," Anita Mureithi of the Royal FloraHolland Kenya Limited said on Wednesday.
Unlike roses or gypsophila, summer flowers like arabicum are heavy, therefore, one pays more freight costs, which have also kept on increasing.
"The product is bulky and freight costs keep on increasing. Some growers are, therefore, switching to light products as they aim for bigger profit margins," she said.
The situation has forced some small-scale farmers in Kenya who produce small volumes to sell through agents, and therefore earn less.