Flower growers in Kenya are forced to throw away a quarter of their produce as air traffic has decreased due to restrictions imposed on competing airlines to protect Kenya Airways.
Kenya Flower Council (KFC), The lobby for large flower farms says they need cargo capacity of at least 5,000 tons per week versus the 3,500 tons available.
For example, the government has refused to allow Ethiopian Airlines to move its capacity from the international airport Jomo Kenyatta (JKIA).
“On average, our members drop flowers for 25 percent of their products due to limited freight capacity,” said Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council.
“It is unfortunate that this is happening when we have more orders from our major markets in Europe and elsewhere.”
Europe makes almost 70 percent of Kenya’s cut flowers from exports and the limited loading capacity and high freight costs make it difficult. The result is that Kenya can serve this market, threatening thousands of jobs.
Exporters say the coronavirus pandemic resulted in most airlines who offered additional capacity on the Nairobi route on the return journey after unloading the cargo, offered additional capacity in Egypt and South Africa.
plan to increase the frequency for other airlines on the Nairobi route after they have been successful in lobbying the government to protect their lawns at the expense of flower growers.
Kenya has announced that it will not approve any more Ethiopia Airlines freighters after Addis declined to allow KQ to transport cargo from the Bole International Airport direct to Europe, forcing the national airline to fly via Nairobi.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said , KQ has pledged to increase capacity and the government will be the other airline besides Ethiopian Airlines to increase the frequency from Nairobi to Europe.
“We met with the flower lobby and KQ and agreed that the national airline undertakes to increase the capacity, which they have confirmed in writing. “Mr. Macharia said yesterday in a phone interview with Business Daily.
Mr. Macharia said he had also asked exporters to recommend other airlines to increase cargo capacity from Nairobi rather than Ethiopia Airlines.
“The only interest they are pushing is Ethiopian Airlines, which we refused because they refused KQ’s flight from Addis to Europe and forced us to fly back to Nairobi,” he said.
The Cabinet Secretary said this week he approved requests from two airlines, including British Air.
Flower exporters are concerned that insufficient air cargo capacity in the middle of the high season is affecting orders.
< Kenya's ornamental plant industry enjoys a relatively long peak season, which runs from September to May, culminating in February when flower growers maximize Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.
Penta Flowers m it headquarters in Thika harvests 250,000 flower stems every day and can export 137,500 due to the loading disruption.
“We cannot export around 45 percent of the flowers. We just turned the 100,000 plus stems into compost and that’s not sustainable, ”said Tom Ochieng, Director at Penta Flowers. “We’re going both ways because the scarcity has led to higher freight costs.”
Freight costs rose from USD 1.5 to USD 2.6 per kilo of flowers, which is shrinking the exporter’s margin.
The Flower Council said the problem of limited cargo capacity persisted even during the off-season but was not detrimental as farmers exported 3,800 tons per week.
The Kenyan farmers had to last Throwing away millions of rose stems every year Europe sealed borders and residents put weddings and funerals on hold to contain the spread of Covid-19.
But demand has returned as restrictions ease and growers hoped that business will recover fully this year.