Kenya’s government has apologized to flower industry stakeholders for previous delays in the clearance of fertilizer at the country’s Port of Mombasa.
These following complaints from the industry last year after the government introduced new regulations to have all imported fertilizer re-inspected at the point of entry in a bid to stop the proliferation of counterfeit products.
The directive saw a lengthy clearance process that ran for up to two months before the consignment could be released created an unprecedented shortage. Fertilizer suppliers were incurring up to Sh2 million shillings daily in demurrage.
The government has since taken steps to speed up the process by reducing the number of clearing agents to four, ensuring that the agricultural inputs get to market on time.
The latest directive is among measures the government has introduced to support the flower industry that has continued to defy harsh economic and weather trends to record sustained earnings and growth.
Dr. Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary for Kenya’s State Department of Trade while speaking at the seventh edition of the International Flower Trade Expo (IFTEX) that opened in Nairobi this week apologized to the floriculture industry for the inconveniences the delays had caused to the industry and promised to streamline the government’s investments and commitments to the sector.
“I take this opportunity to apologize to the sector for the great loss it suffered occasioned by the delays at the port of Mombasa. Following consultations between the government and the industry players we have reduced the inspection of the fertilizer process and left that to four agencies to fast-track clearance,” Dr. Kiptoo said.
Magana Flowers, one of the industry’s leading exporters, has welcomed the government’s decision saying it will go a long way in boosting the grower’s earnings and allowing uninterrupted production.
“It is a landmark directive that has boosted our operations. For us, the cost of fertilizer went up by 39 percent. This cost, unfortunately, is absorbed by growers as it cannot be passed to our buyers due to the risk of pushing our produce to uncompetitive prices leading to loss of markets. We operate in a business that thrives on reliability and a little deviation due to challenges here at home can easily jeopardize client loyalty”, said Magana Flowers CEO, Mr Nicholas Ambanya.
Elgon Kenya, an agro-input company, also hailed the government’s latest move, which it says has allowed the industry to recoup its earnings and ensure farmers are able to get the input in time.
“We thank the president for the directive he gave allowing faster clearance of the fertilizer. It has allowed us to calm market jitters and reach more farmers in time avoiding a looming food shortage,” said Elgon Kenya CEO, Mr. Bimal Kantaria.
Dick van Raamsdonk, the CEO of HPP International Exhibition Group added that IFTEX continued to position itself as a crucial link between buyers and sellers further asserting that having a sustained attendance for seven years is a testament to the place and space of Kenyan flowers in the global market.
Export earnings from cut flowers grew by 37.7% from Ksh82 billion (about$820 million) in 2017 to Ksh113.2 billion ($1.1 billion) in 2018, according to figures from government’s Horticultural Crops Directorate.
The theme of this year’s show is ‘Supporting Sustainable Floriculture in Kenya’ – a focus Kenya Flower Council said was timely at a time when the quality of Kenyan flowers matters as the country looks to grow its export destinations from the current 60 destinations.
Kenya is now targeting virgin markets in Japan, China, India, Australia, Canada, the United States and Eastern Europe.