The red roses Nairobi has been accustomed to for the past three years on Valentine’s Day may not be there this year following a decision by the City authorities to increase charges for staging the flowers on selected streets.
While in the past the council has charge vendors Ksh 1,000, for the day, it now wants them to pay Ksh 9,000 per tent and an additional Ksh 7,000 per table, fees they say are too high.
The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) that negotiated with the council to grant the vendors authority to sell flowers in the streets on Valentine’s Day has written to the Town Clerk Tom Odongo requesting for a review, saying not only will this keep the vendors off the streets, it will also make flowers more costly discouraging buyers.
The chairman of the Flower Vendors Association Elvis Wainaina said they earn between ksh 5,000 and 10,000 per day therefore the revised fees are untenable. “We cannot afford the ksh 16,000 the council is asking us to pay”, he lamented.
His vice Henry Karanja concurred saying only the rich will afford flowers this valentine. “We will lose 75 per cent of expected earnings”, he said.
KFC CEO Mrs Jane Ngige said that the fees are a setback to steps that have been achieved over the past three years in encouraging locals to embrace a culture of flowers by making the product available in the most convenient locations.
Discussions to establish flower kiosks in the city have also been put on hold, Mrs Ngige said, and urged the Town Clerk to expedite the process that was started by his predecessor Phillip Kisia.
The Valentine’s Day flower tents, that are donned in red and splashed with red roses have become a major attraction and last year, the Kenya Tourist Board joined the vendors and KFC in distributing free flowers to women, and the same was to be done next week, but the decision by the council has put the decision on hold.
Valentine’s Day is the most single important in the flower business worldwide, with market reports indicating that more are sold on the day than the rest of the year combined.
“Some flower farms make their money for the year on Valentine’s Day alone”, said Mrs Ngige who added that Kenya is the leading supplier of roses in the world, therefore the day for the country is synonymous with the business.
Mrs Ngige urged the City Council to join hands in supporting local flower consumption instead of frustrating the efforts of the vendors who are beginning to grow into small formal businesses as people appreciate the value of flowers in spicing up their lives.
Also to lose are the growers who, although mainly producing for the export markets had begun serving a growing local clientele.
The KFC will this year carry out a survey on local consumption of flowers and the observed trend will inform the steps to be taken in improving the culture.
“Considering that Kenya is the world’s main supplier of flowers, people vising the country should know they are entering a flower zone while locals should be sensitized to appreciate the industry as a brand”, she said adding that since Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is a
regional hub, we should have many flower kiosks there.
For further information contact Mrs Jane Ngige, CEO Kenya Flower Council: 0720692477
Winnie Muya, Communications Officer, Kenya Flower Council: 0733639523