Kenya: NGOs Give Food Rations to Flower Farms Staff Affected By Covid-19

Civil society organisations under Hivos East Africa's [email protected] Campaign and the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) have dispatched food packages and mobile money transfers worth Sh8 million to workers in selected flower farms.

A total of 7,500 workers in the flower sector will receive the rations as a relief measure due to disruption of income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The flower sector is among the worst hit by the ravaging coronavirus crisis and it saw hundreds of permanent workers sent home, some on unpaid leave, in March and April.

Those mostly affected were the temporary workers who were rendered jobless.

Many still at home

Although most flower farms have recalled their workers in recent weeks as export markets are gradually opening up, many are still at home and unemployed.

Over 200,000 workers are employed directly in farms across the country.

"We have been implementing projects with the flower farms under our [email protected] programme which advocates for good working conditions for workers in the horticulture [sector]. It is only prudent for us to extend some support to the workers in this extraordinary period," said Hivos East Africa's Regional Director Mendi Njonjo.

A study conducted by the Hivos East Africa on the effects of Covid-19 on women working in the horticulture industry showed that many of them are struggling to buy food and are worried about loss of income.

Following this, Hivos focused on not only fighting the spread of the virus but also cushioning and safeguarding women workers who stand to be the most affected by the ravaging effects of the current pandemic.

Highly skilled labour

"The flower industry is also one of the largest employers in the Kenya. The industry has an immerse pool of highly skilled labour," said Kenya Flower Council Chief Executive Officer Clement Tulezi.

"Workers are the backbone of the flower industry. KFC is delighted by the simple gesture to demonstrate how much workers are valued and their contribution appreciated," he added.

The Agriculture and Food Authority reported that Kenya's earnings from horticulture exports, including flowers, fruits and vegetable, fell seven per cent in 2019 to Sh142.72 from Sh154.7 billion in 2018, mainly due to lower prices of flowers at the auction in the Netherlands.

In March, Mr Tulezi had projected that the sector would shrink to half its value at the close of 2020 should the harsh conditions brought about by Covid-19 persist.

However, with markets reopening over time, the flower sector is expected to bounce back once Covid-19 restrictions around the globe are lifted.

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