The flower industry in Kenya is located in Naivasha and employs over 50,000 people (directly and indirectly). The markets for this flower are the developed countries, mostly Europe. The exportation to Europe accounts for 70% of the total sales of the country’s flowers (Kenya flowers council). The sector is the second foreign exchange earner (from tea) for the Eastern Africa nation. They have established themselves in the country because of the availability of cheap labor and the favorable climate.
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Since the year 2003, the sector has been recording a steady growth and the income derived has been on the rise. Statistics from the Kenya flower council saw that the income derived from the sector amounted to 10.4 billion shillings in 2003, 13.1 billion shillings in 2005, and 13.36 billion in the year 2006. This sector was adversely affected during the 2007 global crisis. Europe disposable income was reduced and this meant that the demand for the flowers was reduced.
The other way that the sector was affected is the reduction in the value of the dollar. As the dollar got weak, the money that was fetched from the minimal exports that the country did was less. At this time the income of the flower companies reduced sharply (Davies, 2010). This followed the sacking of employees and deteriorated living standards. Some companies like the Ser Karuturi were forced to momentarily stop flower growth. These reduced incomes affected other sectors like the communication sector (Wainwright & Labuschagne, 2009).
The flower sector is thought to have shrunk by up to 35% at the start of the global crisis; Statistics from Kenya Flower Council (KFC) show earnings took a knock from 13.36 billion shillings (191.8 million dollars) in the first three months of the year to 10.76 billion shillings (13.68 million dollars). This was a reduction of 30% of the tonnage. The tonnage had been predicted to be 80,000 tons but only 70000 tons were produced (Davies, 2010).
After the global crisis, the industry has been recording increases in its exports. Although most of the staff had been laid off during the crisis, the industry has embarked on a recruitment plan to employ skilled and competent staff for its daily operations. Today, it is one of the major economic stimuli in the country. It’s the largest supply of flower exports to the European market. As of 1st May 2010, Emirates Airlines launched its cargo services for the flower industry (Njoroge, 2010). This will help solve some of the problems experienced in the flower industry due to poor transportation. The industry relies on airline transport due to the perishable nature of the flowers.
According to the regional manager, Essa Ahmad, 400 tonnes of the cargo that will be transported by Emirates Airline will come from the flower industry. Presently, Emirates Airlines transports about 1000 tones of flowers per month to Amsterdam (a freight hub and a well-known center for flowers that makes it suitable for marketing cut flowers from Kenya). The new initiative was launched to help Kenya in its search for other international markets.
This is not the only industry that is willing to offer flower transportation, there are others like Kenya Airways that are up to the challenge. Competition might soon elapse in this industry which will be an advantage because it might result in lower charges and better services. The cargo business had suffered from the global recession but is picking up. It is estimated that it has already improved by 28 percent and is expected to improve further for better services. In the next two to three years, the cargo business in Africa is expected to register rapid growth because the global economy is now recovering from the recession.
Flowers and vegetable exports form the backbone of the Kenyan economy. In the past three years, the flower industry has been successful especially in the exportation of rose flowers which are in high demand in Europe. The industry employs thousands of employees and contributes more than a fifth of Kenya’s GDP. For about four days in April this year, the industry experienced a big blow in its transportation from air travel interruptions.
This is because the industry relies on air transport. There was a volcano ash cloud that hindered airline transportation (Gauti, 2010). As a result, the country lost about $3 billion each day from the flower industry. More than 12 billion worth of flowers that were supposed to be transported to Europe were destroyed among other losses.
Normally, flowers are harvested, iced, packed, and then transported to international airports in Nairobi by use of road transport where they are loaded to Europe (Gauti, 2010). This process takes only 72 hours and after that, a customer can get them from any of the supermarkets in Europe. It is therefore clear that the future of the flower industry depends on the efficiency of air transport. If such a volcano occurs in the future, the industry might lose most of the international market and might cause more harm than experienced during the ash cloud volcano.
Davies, W. (2010). Flowers = Happiness? The emotional impact of plants. Web.
Gauti, B. (2010). How the Iceland volcano ash cloud is crippling Kenya’s flower industry. Web.
Kenya Flower Council (2010). Kenya Cut Flowers Industry. Web.
Njoroge, E. (2010). Emirates tap Kenya flower business. Web.
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Wainwright, H, and Labuschagne, L. (2009). Crop Protection and the Kenyan Flower Industry. Web.