Kenya's flower sector decries high costs of labour, energy
INTERNATIONAL – Kenya's flower industry on Tuesday cited the high cost of labor, energy and farm inputs as major challenges currently facing the sector.
The Kenya Flower Council (KFC), an umbrella for flower growers, which denied that the sector was losing its market share in the EU, accused the government of a lack of support for its incentives.
"Kenya is still among the leading producers of cut-flowers globally and our market share is very stable despite emerging challenges," Clement Tulezi, the CEO of KFC told journalists in the lakeside town of Naivasha.
His remarks come in the wake of the move by an international firm, Finlay Company which has announced plans to close down two of its farms and send home workers due to the high cost of labour.
Tulezi said the sector was stable despite the move to close the farms because of the drop in the prices of roses in the international market.
He attributed the drop of price to flooding of roses by producers from other countries in the market noting that all products globally were affected.
"The sector is very stable contrary to reports in a section of the press and the flooding of roses in the EU market affected the prices of roses but this has stabilized," he said.
"Part of the problem we are facing is lack of support from the government which is keen to pump in millions of shillings to moribund sectors like maize and sugarcane," Tulezi said.
"The government owes flower farms millions in VAT refunds and it has refused to offer us tax exemptions unlike other sectors," he said.
Tulezi added that things had been worsened by double taxation from the national and county governments leading to more losses for the farms.
He said that they had filed two cases at the two law courts challenging the taxes which he termed as unfair and punitive.
"There is little that the county governments are doing for flower farms yet they have cess points all over while the issue of expiry of land leases by many farms has not been addressed," he said.