19 June 2012

Kenya: Direct Flights Key to Kenya's Flower Exports

Nairobi — An increase in direct flights between Kenya and most of the Western and Asian countries could largely increase Kenya's flower exports.

Naivasha Horticultural Fair vice chairman Richard McGonnel says Kenya has an untapped market of 350 million people in the United States which is hampered by lack of direct flights.

"America is a huge developing market. The Chinese market is getting even bigger due development in the country, India the same; huge amounts of flowers. In short, there is a huge market out there, people who have not gotten into the habit of buying flowers," said McGonnel.

McGonnel who is also a flower farmer says the current biggest challenge in the sector is the high operating cost, caused by rising fuel charges.

He however says the continued economic crisis in the Euro zone will not have any significant impact in the flower export.

"Flowers are a necessity in Europe. Again Greece which is much affected is not one of our biggest markets since it does a lot of farming," McGonnel added.

He was speaking during the announcement of this year's Naivasha Horticultural Fair in September 14 and 15 which is expected to attract over 200 local and international exhibitors.

Kenya Commercial Bank's Group Chief Business Officer Peter Kimondo called on the financial institutions to invest in the flower sector which he says is the most resilient sector even in economic crisis.

Among other sponsors and partners, KCB will be investing Sh3 million in this year's fair.

"The flower sector is large, and is also a huge consumer of cash. Take an example of one hectare of a green house which costs about Sh1 million. (Also) a typical flower farm employs close to 5,000 people," said Kimondo.

Apart from exhibiting different types of flowers, the fair will also involve adopting of Nyamati village in Naivasha, by building a secondary school, erecting domestic water system to over 30,000 residents, and refurbishing of the local maternity clinic and the road accident emergency centre.

Kenya earned Sh91.6 billion from the sale of flowers, fruits and vegetables in 2011, with flowers only, contributing Sh45.5 billion.

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