Kenyan flower farmers are staring at reduced business this year. This is as reduced airfreight capacity and lockdowns in crucial European markets threaten to hurt Kenyan flower sales during Valentine’s season.
Kenya’s cut flower exports
Considered the world’s 4th largest exporter of flowers, available figures from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that export of cut flowers hit 7,989.41 MT or KSh 8,608.37 Million in April 2020. This was the lowest volume and value of cut flower exports when Europe went into a lockdown and closed its flower markets.
But Kenya’s export of cut flowers rose steadily after the easing of lockdowns in Europe to hit 14,480.22 MT or but the value of these exports remained depressed at KSh 7,473.06 Million in October 2020.
With Europe going into another lockdown beginning December 2020, export of cut flowers from Kenya is likely to suffer. This is especially so during the February 14th Valentine’s Day when sales of flowers from Kenya rise significantly.
According to Clement Tulezi, CEO of Kenya Flower Council, flower producers are receiving orders but lack enough freight.
Freight capacity demand
Freight demand typically doubles to 5,500 tons in the week before Valentine’s Day, requiring an additional weekly shipping capacity of 3,000 tonnes.
With lockdown in crucial EU markets such as the Netherlands and UK, export of cut flowers from Kenya will be hard hit.
Kenya is relying on assistance from Ethiopian Airlines for additional freighters on the Nairobi-Amsterdam route to ease capacity constraints.
CBK survey of Kenya’s flower industry
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), through a survey conducted in November 2020, found that most flower farms have indicated that their export orders for flowers are firm.
This is despite uncertainty surrounding the possibility of a more stringent second wave of COVID-19 restrictions.
Most flower firms have received more than 80% of usual orders, to last for the next four months.
The firm orders were attributed to sentiments that the existing lockdown measures were less stringent than April/May when international flights were cancelled. Others worry about rising taxes.
Figures indicate that Kenya’s flower industry employs over 500,000 people, including over 100,000 engaged directly in flower farms.