The Kenyan multi-billion flower market is set for hard times as Australia states it will not postpone requirements for Kenya to have met guidelines on its horticultural exports.
Time has run out as only about ten days is left for Kenya to comply with the deadline which is set to begin in September 1.
The requirements among other things requires that Kenyan farmers comply with the zero pest tolerance directive on all the flowers that are exported to Australia, failure to which they will be banned from accessing the market. Under the new regulations, Kenya’s exporters would be required to fumigate their produce at least 18 hours before it is exported, which is not the case at the moment.
The directive is set to hit the Sh2.6 billion annual sales and stakeholders in the industry are afraid Kenya will not beat the deadline.
Currently Australia does the disinfection at their port of entry before it gets to the market.
“We have had several discussions with the Australian officials but they have maintained their stance that the deadline will not be moved,” said Okesegere Ojepat, chief executive at Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya.
The move implies that effective September 1, Kenya’s flower export to Australia will halt. The new directive was to be effective on July 1 but Kenya asked for an extension to address the matter accordingly.
Stakeholders are concerned that Kenya might not have the capacity to put up a full-fledged fumigation infrastructure in place as there is none available at the moment.
The challenges include financial constraints since Kenyan farmers are required to set up a fumigation plant.
“For us to put up a fumigation plant, we need at least Sh500 million to meet the cost of this facility,” he said.
The cut-flower export remains the largest earner in the horticulture sector, contributing over 70 percent of the total fresh produce’s annual earnings.
In 2018, flowers earned Kenya over Kshs. 113 billion.
Horticulture earnings hit Sh153 billion last year making it number three in contribution of Kenya to forex earnings after diaspora remittance of Kshs. 272 billion and tourism Kshs. 157 billion in 2018.
The government of Kenya through the Ministry of Trade and Industry has so far not commented on the matter.
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