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Kenya Flower Council estimates flower exports to drop 14 pct in 2009

Kenyan flower exports may drop 14 percent to 80,000 tonnes this year due to drought and a depressed world market, the chief executive of the Kenya Flower Council said.

Flower exports are the leading foreign exchange earner for the east African country and like other agricultural commodities has suffered from insufficient rainfall.

Production in the first nine months of 2009 fell at least 8.6 percent to 64,017 tonnes from 70,096 tonnes during the same period last year, according to KFC statistics.

“We are now targeting 80,000 tonnes of flower exports by the end of the year compared to last year when we did 93,000 tonnes,” Ngige said late on Wednesday.

“As per September, production had dropped … due to low demand in the market and the abrasive weather but we hope it will pick up as we head to the festive period.”

The value of exports fell at least 28 percent to 22.71 billion shillings over January and September.

Ngige said that the current drought had played part as farmers cut their production due to lack of water.

“The weather has been abrasive making water availability a problem and the farmers have been forced to cut down their production,” she said, adding that some farmers had laid off their workers.

Ngige was however confident that things would improve as the United States and Japanese markets had warmed up to Kenya flowers.

Kenya accounts for 35 percent of the flower imports into the European Union. Uganda, a neighbouring producer, is also suffering the effects of the global downturn.

Source: Reuters (22 October 2009)