Cut flower business last year shrugged off prolonged electioneering to post a record Sh82.2 billion export earnings representing a 20 per cent rise from Sh70.8 billion in 2016.
The all-time high earnings were attributed to the sale of 159,961 metric tonnes compared to 133,668 tonnes shipped to European markets in 2016.
Kenya Flower Council (KFC) said the labour-intensive subsector witnessed heavy investments in new farms and expansion driven by tax incentives for key imported inputs.
“(The sector got) active government support mainly by facilitating trade through the provision of incentives in the form of nil or reduced duties and other taxes on imported inputs say, greenhouses, greenhouse covers, refrigeration equipment for cooling and cold stores, dam construction lining and shade netting among others,” said the KFC. The future for cut flower business appears bright with recent research and development activities that have led to increased production of premium and highly sought varieties.
While May had the highest volumes at 16,093 metric tonnes earning farmers Sh7.5 billion, producers earned Sh7.66 billion from 13,766 metric tonnes due to increased demand in December. The KFC said increased airfreight to key markets had also boosted Kenya’s market share to 35 per cent globally. The sales could further increase with planned direct flights to the US starting September from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
New markets, especially in China and Asia, have also elicited new interest, especially after several airlines expressed intention to add frequencies along the Nairobi route.
Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ , which is a major flower carrier, has also signed partnership agreements with several airlines to transport flowers to major market destinations.