Kenyan authorities are reported to have lifted a ban on cut flowers from Tanzania on transit to markets in Europe and other destinations abroad, according to the Tanzania Horticultural Association (Taha)
"Taha took up this challenge and engaged with the respective authorities. As a result of this, the MoU has been signed which provides for an end to Kenya's ban of importation of cut flower from Tanzania", the body said last week in a statement.
The ban was imposed by Kenya in May, 2011 in order to protect the neighbouring country's flower industry from regulated pests which the authorities there suspected may occur in Tanzania roses.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Taha says, was signed by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services on behalf of Kenyan government and the Plant Health Services Section in the ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives for Tanzania.
There are about eleven pests which are officially controlled for the purposes of the signed MoU, the statement added.
The Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) has been completed and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) has concluded that, the importation of cut flowers from Tanzania may be permitted "provided that Tanzania meets the requirements provided in the MoU aiming at minimizing pest risks".
Taha, a lobby group for the industry based in Arusha, says as a result of the ban, the Tanzania flower farmers had lost more than five clients of cut roses in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Russia and Italy.
These countries were among the key customers of Tanzania cut flowers, but are willing to buy flowers only through arrangements of exportation whereby Tanzania flower consignments are consolidated with others from Kenya.
"In consequence of losing these customers, the Tanzania farms were compelled to look for other markets, which are however not reliable and give relatively lower prices", the association said.
The signing of the agreement therefore marks the conclusion of implementation of resolutions of the bilateral meeting between Tanzania and Kenya which was held in Nairobi, on September, 2012.
The meeting was held to discuss non-tariff barriers (NTBs) issues among the two countries including the import ban of cut flower by Kenya.
Taha is an apex private sector members based organization working to develop and promote Tanzania horticulture through its strategic activities namely, creating business environment through policy and advocacy, provision of technical support services and industry promotion.
The body represents value chain actors in the industry (farmers, exporters, processors, and service providers) and work closely with the government, development partners and other private sector organizations to ensure that horticulture receives sufficient support to sustain its growth.
Before the lifting of the ban, the horticultural industry players had started initiating talks with international carriers to ferry their exports directly to markets overseas instead of using the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) which handles about 60 per cent of horticultural exports from Tanzania.
Airlines contacted included Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways which recently introduced direct flights to the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) as well as the Ethiopian Airlines and others which have been flying there for years.
The horticulture industry earns the Tanzania more than $ 385 million a year which is equivalent to 40 per cent of the total export economy and about nine per cent of the country's total exports.