Kenya’s flower exports have risen to 80 per cent of their previous level from 30 per cent in the last one month when the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic forced sales down.
Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui yesterday said the sector was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, but the reopening of the EU market had changed the situation.
He noted that at least 339,000 workers were employed directly by flower farms countrywide, with hundreds of them sent home on unpaid leave at the height of the pandemic.
“We are happy that many countries in Europe are easing their lockdown regulations, and this has seen the export of flowers increase to 80 per cent,” said Chelugui.
Speaking in Naivasha after visiting farms affected by the pandemic, the CS singled out and commended Van-Den Berg for not sacking any of its employees despite the crisis.
“The government has introduced various stimulus packages and released VAT (value-added tax) refunds to cushion flower farms affected by the pandemic,” he said.
Chelugui said they were in talks with Kenya Airways on how to get the cost of cargo reduced, as transport was one of the costs hampering exports of various goods, including flowers. “This pandemic has affected many sectors and we have received notices from various institutions that want to put over 300,000 workers on unpaid leave or declare them redundant,” he said.
Agricultural Employers Association Chief Executive Wesley Siele appealed to flower farmers not to uproot the crops, as there was hope for the sector.
He cited the VAT refunds and the stimulus packages as some of the measures the government had introduced to support flower farmers.
Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said the sector was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Simon Chelugui Farm workers Exports