NAIVASHA, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan flower exports to the European Union (EU) market have dropped by 50 percent in the last couple of weeks amid the COVID-19 outbreak, investors said on Tuesday.
Jack Kneppers, proprietor of Maridadi flower farm located in the resort town of Naivasha, said that over one million stems of roses which were destined for the Netherlands have already gone to waste.
"In the last four days we have disposed all the days' collection in the compost yard and already we have sent home 150 workers due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus," said Kneppers.
He warned that those small-scale horticulture farmers would run into bankruptcy in the coming weeks if the situation persisted.
Caroline Mengesa, the representative of flower farm workers in Naivasha, said that livelihoods were at stake as job losses accompany the reduced demand for Kenyan flowers in traditional export destinations affected by the virulent disease.
Clement Tulezi, chief executive officer of Kenya Flower Council, an umbrella body of all flower farmers in Kenya, said that only 50 percent of the country's flower production was accessing the EU market.
"The exports are fluctuating from day to day but the average export is 50 percent with the Dutch auction yesterday operating at 35 percent," said Tulezi.
He said that several farms had already suspended the shipping of their flowers to some EU countries.
"Farmers have had their orders cancelled and many have opted to reduce their shipping or totally cancel it due to the uncertainty in the market," said Tulezi.
"This means that we are losing around 10 million shillings (about 100,000 U.S. dollars) daily and we have embarked on the process of sending seasonal workers home while those on permanent employment are heading for leave," he added. Enditem