Horticulture in Kenya Churns on Despite Unrest

January 18, 2008 - 12:23

As Kenya’s economy continues to reel from the recent political upheaval and violence following a disputed presidential election, the horticulture sector — the country’s second-highest earner after tourism — reports only a slight impact.

The region is the largest exporter of cut flowers to Europe, reports Reuters in a Jan. 11 article. The sector has only taken root in Kenya in the last decade and earned the country $709.1 million in 2006. “We certainly are not one of the sectors seriously hit by the unrest,” states Stephen Mbithi, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Exports Association of Kenya (FPEAK) in the Reuters article.

However, two growers were unable to truck their produce for two days because of the unrest, a $274,900 loss, but they account for less than 5 percent of Kenya’s overall production, according to FPEAK.

The Society of American Florists reported in an “E-Brief” last Wednesday that some flower transport trucks were hijacked, preventing their journey to airports and staff from coming into work.

BuaNews, a South African news service, reports that the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) has “decried the loss of export opportunities in the horticulture sector,” saying that flower exporters were losing the confidence in overseas markets because of the current political stalemate in the country.

Luckily, no violence has been reported on horticultural farms, but The Washington Post reports at least 500 people have died as a result of the unrest, with thousands more displaced.

Editors’ note: In last week’s GPN Weekly, there was a reporting error. Ecke Ranch does not currently have any horticultural farms in Kenya.

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