Kenya has flagged off over 300 bouquets of flowers to London, United Kingdom to show empathy amid the coronavirus pandemic that has left more than 20,000 dead in the European country.
Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), through its member, Kenya Flower Council, and other flower growers flagged off over 300 bouquets, which will be received by Flamingo Limited, UK and will be distributed to doctors and nurses on the frontline of combating COVID-19, recovering patients and care homes.
KEPSA's Chief Executive Officer Carol Karuga said that "Our member, the Kenya Flower Council, has done this to show empathy and this sends a strong message of partnership at a time when many countries are facing difficulty. It is part of our campaign dubbed 'Flowers of Hope' informed by the realities brought forth by how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting world economies."
The campaign kicked off a month ago by KEPSA members, Kenya Flower Council (KFC), Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Elgon Kenya, Kenya Airways and Jambo Jet and partners of KEPSA as a uniting symbol to show solidarity and compassion emerging in Kenya and indeed the world as a response to the COVID-19.
After a successful distribution in Kenya's main hospitals in Nairobi and the counties, UK distribution is the first international distribution, an important symbol as London is Kenya's traditional market for flowers.
"The campaign is a show of gratitude and support to the people at the frontline of or suffering from the pandemic, which will also help in saving thousands of farm jobs in Kenya's flower farms," added Karuga
Meanwhile, Kenya Airways has announced that it has uplifted 40 tonnes of flowers and vegetables to Amsterdam, in a move meant to boost the sector, that employs thousands of Kenyans directly and is a major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product.
In a tweet, the national carrier says more flights are scheduled be airlifted to Europe.
Contribution to GDP
According to data from Kenya Flower Council, sales of cut flowers in overseas markets are below 35 percent of what we would expect at this time of the year.
This is mostly driven by the European and United Kingdom markets whose local sales in florists have declined to almost zero. Retailers (supermarkets) are open for essential foodstuff and cut flowers remain on the shelves.
Floriculture is a unique industry dealing in perishables. Flower plants need to be kept alive and healthy, otherwise they will die and the industry will lose its ability to supply flowers when the markets open up.
Kenya Flower Council Chief Executive Officer Clement Tulezi said that, "It is by standing together that we become stronger and endure. These are Kenyans showing their love through what Kenya does best, flowers. By donating these flowers, we are motivating people as well as preserving thousands of jobs"
In 2018 the floriculture sector earned the country Sh113 billion contributing around 1.07 per cent to the country's GDP and is the fourth largest contributor of foreign exchange after diaspora, tourism and tea.
The industry is inclusive consisting of both large exporters and small-scale farmers, and about 60 percent of Kenya's flower farm workers are women.