Kenya lifts ban in cut flowers from Tanzania

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Kenya has lifted a ban on Tanzania’s cut flowers on transit to overseas markets via its soil, thanks to a bilateral agreement signed recently.

Flower farms in Tanzania and Kenya have been exporting their products jointly for years to win clients in overseas markets who require a mixture of different flowers from the two nearby countries.

But on May 10, May 2011 Kenya imposed an embargo on Tanzania’s cut flowers to touch its land, citing what it called ‘phytosanitary’ reasons, making the latter’s exporters suffer in silence due to nonexistence of cargo flights back home.

However, the deal sealed late last month between Kenya’s Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) and National plant Protection Organization of Tanzania (NPPO) now breathes new life into the $80 million sub-sector.

The KEPHIS said that Tanzania’s cut flowers were now permitted to enter Kenya provided the country gives an official pest risk analysis of the flower consignment.

“The purpose of this memorandum is to enable Tanzania to send consignments of rose or cut flowers to Kenya while minimizing the phytosanitary risks involved prior to and during exportation,” reads part of the MoU seen by this reporter.

The agreement signed by KEPHIS Managing Director Dr. James Onsando and NPPO assistant Director Plant Health Services Cornelius Mkondo binds the NPPO to issue a phytonisatary certificate to accompany all shipments of Tanzania’s cut flowers to Kenya.

KEPHIS officials at the port of entry in Kenya also would be required to contain additional declaration showing compliance of Tanzania’s consignment to phytosanitary importing requirements of Kenya.

The MoU also requires both NPPO and KEPHIS to maintain accurate records including date of receipt and place or origin, for at least one year for all cut flowers shipped in accordance to the MoU and make such records available for review.

Tanzania’s exports of cut flowers to European markets are expected to
get off to a slow start following the lifting of a 22-long ban by Kenya, industry players say.

The Kenyan border closure of Tanzania’s cut flowers en route to overseas markets has cost the country’s horticulture industry around $140 million.

The Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) says that some areas of the
flower trade may never return to the levels they reached in 2010 – when the country exported nearly 3,900 tons of cut flowers with a value of $65 million.

TAHA Executive Director Jacqueline Mkindi told this reporter that only 2,500 tonnes of cut flowers worth $45 million could be exported to the EU in 2013.

She says that it could take at least six months to get the exact cost of the ban.

“We know it’s going to be very modest … it’s a market that’s been shut from us for nearly two years,” Ms Mkindi noted, adding: “Other people are in those markets at the moment, supplying the contracts that we lost, and we need to work hard to win those markets back.”

“We are grateful to the two governments to have resolved to work on this issue amicably for the sake of the sub-sector,” TAHA boss concluded.

A flower farmer who preferred anonymity told this reporter that they have lost about seven clients of roses in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Russia, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden.

Tanzania’s flower sector had suffered largely as a result of the ban because the multi-million cut flower industry is highly dependent on the

Jommo Kenyatta international airport.

Official statistics show in excess of 80 percent of Tanzania’s horticultural export used to be airlifted through Jomo Kenyatta airport.

Source: The Guardian / IPP Media

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