The volumes of cut flowers exported dipped last year even as its value went up by Sh10 billion, according to the Kenya Flower Council (KFC).
KFC chief executive Jane Ngige said provisional statistics from the Horticultural Crop Directorate indicate that 121,346 metric tonnes of flowers worth Sh62.9 billion were exported in 2015.
In 2014, the flower industry earned the country Sh54.6 billion with export volumes totalling 136,601 metric tonnes.
Mrs Ngige said the flower industry that had recovered in 2014 following dismal performance since 2010, could only be boosted by supporting small-scale growers to meet stringent requirements set for the European Union (EU) markets.
“After a period of rapid growth between the year 2000 and 2010, flower exports rose from 40,000 to 120,000 tonnes, equivalent to an annualised growth of almost 12 per cent. Over the last years, exports have fallen back to a growth of less than 2 per cent and it was only in 2014 that we began to see momentum returning,” Mrs Ngige said on Friday last week.
Speaking in Naivasha during a conference, the KFC boss said support in research and development, use of technology and innovation in value addition are avenues through which Kenya can enhance the horticulture sector’s productivity and sustainability.
She said there is need for regulators and development partners to focus on small-scale growers to enable them meet stringent requirements for export to EU market.
Industry players are upbeat of a better performance in the horticulture and cut flowers this year on the back of a resolution with Europe over minimum residual levels on exports.
TEST EUROPE-BOUND PRODUCE
In 2014 the EU gave Kenya an ultimatum to ensure all produce meant for the market should not contain more than 2 per cent of chemicals or herbicide sprayed on the crop or lose the Sh100 billion market.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service analytical chemistry laboratory was recently re-accredited by the South African National Accreditation Service to test produce destined for Europe.
KFC endorsed global manufacturer Dow Chemical’s new insecticide -Closer240SC- into the Kenyan market that promises to kill three flower pests at the same time. They are mealy bugs, aphids and whiteflies.
Mrs Ngige said the trio, common in flowers has been cited by horticulture industry stakeholders as a potential cause of losses to both flower farmers and the economy if found in flower consignments sold to EU countries.
“The launch of Closer240SC is indeed timely for the industry as growers continue to struggle with pest pressures. It is gratifying to note that the new quality product is dealing with some of the difficult and stubborn pests to manage and keep our production managers awake all night,” she said.