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Kenya prides herself of a blooming flower sector. According to the Kenya Flower Council, our flower exports grew from 10,946 tons in 1988 to 161,227 tons in 2018; growing by 10% each year for more than three decades. Both the volume and value of flowers exports have grown over the last 3 decades placing Kenya as Africa’s lead cut flowers exporter.
In the global export map, Kenya ranks as the 4th largest exporter of flowers behind Netherlands, Colombia and Ecuador. Similarly, in terms of trade balance, Kenya is the fourth largest net exporter of cut flowers globally. Our cut flowers, especially roses are among the most in demand flowers worldwide.
Kenya’s primary export destination for cut flowers, especially roses is Netherlands. Other key markets for our cut flowers include United Kingdom, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Over the last five years, cut flowers demand has grown faster in China, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates than in other countries. These are markets for which Kenyan exporters may consider diversifying into or increasing engagement with for enhanced export trade relations.
The Horticultural Crops Directorate note that about half of Kenya’s exports of cut flowers land in Netherlands for the Dutch flower auction before being sold across Europe. Direct sales to the export markets occur at a lesser extent.

Impact of the pandemic on the flowers sector.

It is no secret that the Covid19 pandemic occasioned a multitude of challenges to the sector. Demand for the commodity had declined rendering a massive blow to the local farmers and exporters. The containment measures employed by various countries also reduced the high demand for the flowers that have previously experienced.
Most European nations: our lead export destination for flowers, faced rapidly growing number of Covid-19 incidences which prompted application of interventions meant to curb the spread. Most of the flowers exported in Europe in the beginning of the pandemic were destroyed as the markets for the commodity were closed, borders closed, and logistics priority given to food items and other essential items
Travel bans to Europe adversely affected the supply chains and demand side especially where direct marketing was involved. Airfreight cancellations owing to increased incidences of the disease also hurt the industry as flowers remained unsold. As a result, the value of Kenya’s total exports to her lead flower export destination, Netherlands, declined to Ksh. 8.8 billion between April and June 2020 compared to Ksh. 11.4 billion in the same period in 2019.

Fighting against the economic adversities of the pandemic

The country remained committed to bring the sector back to its vibrant self. Supply side interventions such as allowing air freight and tax restructuring were successfully taken up to cushion the sector players from the hit of the pandemic. The recent ease of lockdown by European countries has rejuvenated the demand for flowers and breathed hope for full recovery of the industry.
According to the Kenya Flower Council, the demand for flowers has started picking up and is expected to be near normal levels in good time. Holding other factors constant, the industry is expected to fully bounce back by early next year. However, the expected stimulus package to the horticultural sector should improve on the competitiveness of the sector by stabilizing national production.
Kenya’s flower sector remains one of the most promising sectors. The demand for flowers has started going back to the normal. We expect the industry to fully bounce back to its buzzing nature.
If anything, the pandemic has taught us how resilient our flower sector is. By July, cut flowers exports had picked up. Exports of cut flowers were estimated at Ksh. 15.5 billion between July and September 2020; Ksh. 2.8 billion higher than the export values of 2019 (July to September).

The next chapter for Kenya

FlowerThe country’s commitment to facilitate trade remains steadfast. As witnessed, investment into logistic support has been prioritized. This is with the aim (among other goals) to enhance trade.
The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency assists producers and exporters to navigate the export sector and to position ready export products in 22 key markets with the aim of achieving increased export growth. The support to exporters includes Capacity building trainings for exporters; Product development program through instructive programs; Test marketing of export ready products and the Kenya Export Development program that identifies events, Expos, trade missions etc to provide visibility for our export products.
Currently, the Agency has partnered with stakeholders in the Horticulture sector where flowers play a critical role, to develop a go to market Integrated Marketing Communication strategy that will work towards achieving a coordinated communication programme that is customer focused and consistent towards achieving a competitive advantage for the horticultural produce.
However, all this is threatened by a second wave of the pandemic that continue to threaten our traditional markets in the UK and EU. This concern accelerates the need for the horticulture sector to diversify into new markets including Africa, and work towards a more competitive logistical infrastructure.

Dr. Wilfred Marube, CEO
Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency

About BrandKE

The Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (BRANDKE) is a new State Corporation established under the State Corporations Act Cap 446 through Legal Notice No.110 of August 9th, 2019
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