By ANTHONY MUTAI
The market demand for Kenyan flowers is still high with EU taking up to 80% of the flower market, however the pests and diseases issue can bring a big impact to the Market. Australia being a premium markets rejects flowers on FCM while the EU will join suit on 1st December 2019. Competition for markets is high. There have been calls for the Kenya Health Plant Inspectorate Services to set up a fumigation centre at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to get rid of dudus ,however Kephis lacks the capacity to set up a fumigation centre in Kenya. Flower farms are calling upon the Kenyan government or private entities to help set it up. This follows the strict regulaions set by the European Union on the quality of flowers delivered to their markets.
Kephis ensures no flowers arrive to market with pests whether dead or alive. Kephis rejects flowers with pests at the airport.
However, concerns have been raised on the type of pesticides to be used. Australia being a special market insists on the use of any pesticides available to avoid pests from other regions being transferred to their region while the EU insists on less use of pesticides on flowers.
At the Xpressions flora, Australia market has a special order section of flowers in the green houses meant for their markets with well-trained growers on handling of the flowers. The special order for Australia are sprayed with the required pesticides. The harvesting of the flowers is done by the skilled personnel at the right stage. The flowers are collected separately from other flowers and transported to the pack house receiving bay in special netted cable cars and placed in a reserved spot exclusively for the Australian market.
. “Every department at the pack house performs strictly on the laid standard operation procedures and observations have to be recorded. Flowers meant for the Australian market are transported to the receiving area in special netted cages, and have their own special cold storage.” Said Brijesh Patel, Farm manager.
“Japan is a good market with strict rules, they are specific on the quality and check on the flowers step by step to detect on any presence of pests. Dudus tend to hibernate in the cold room only to emerge while the flowers are at the market.” Said Keitan sales manager. Japan has a fumigation centre set up.
Flower farms have been facing challenges such as taxes on prices of inputs such as fertilizers hence increasing the cost of production and the value of the product is low and revenue is affected. Clients rejecting flowers also is of major concern.
Flower farms have to get certifications for their products, they have to find direct markets for survival as the auction is not that assured. They initially started with KFC and now have been joined by MPs, Sedx, Eu regulatory such as the Global grasp. Each certification carries its own conditions.
The fumigation unit is highly needed in Kenya. The bodies will regulate flowers farms on the use of pesticides. KFC checks on the chemical use. There are intervals set on what chemicals should be used and time to be sprayed .
Clement Tulezi the C.E.O of the Kenya Flower Council said , “ the restrictions put by Australian market are not for Kenya only but for every flower exporting country. We are in support of the rules set on the ferrying of pest free flowers.” The Kenya Flower Council has plans of having mobile fumigation systems from one farm to another.
“These are realities we have to face and we need to get our act together,we have to surmount our challenges and continue exporting to Australia.” Said Mr Tulezi .Kenya Flower Council has to comply with the requirements and the government has requested them to deal with it. They are also planning to set aside special inspections systems to export to Australia.