Flower staff working on packaging. The Kenya Flower Council has warned thousands of workers in the sector will be sacked due to lockdowns in export markets.

Kenya’s horticultural exports are assured of market access to European Union countries as Britain plans to exit the confederation in March this year.

According to Dr Chris Kiptoo, the Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Brexit will not affect the market as there will be an interim period for UK to negotiate trade deals.

This comes as the The Kenya Flowers Council reported 33% increase in horticultural exports in 2018 compared to 2017.

The country earned Sh153 billion from international markets against Sh117 billion in 2017 with flowers accounting for Sh113 billion from Sh82 billion the previous year .

Vegetables fetched Sh27 million compared to Sh24 billion in 2017 with fruits yielding Sh12 billion from Sh9 billion the previous year.

Holland, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Germany and France were outlined as the largest importers of Kenyan flowers, fruits and vegetables.

The industry is further expanding its market oversees by taking advantage of direct flights from Kenya to New York.

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Additionally, a delegation from China is expected to discuss fruit exportation from the country in a bid to complement the European market.

In a j***t statement released at Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi, the Kenya Flower Council (KFC), Fresh Produce Exporters  Association of Kenya (FPEAK) and the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) announced that the exports orders are rising with 2019’s revenue projected to exceed Sh160 billion.

“We are addressing some of the biggest challenges we have faced in horticultural industry last year together with the government and this will help us increase in our production and export this year,” said Kenya Flower boss Clement Tulezi.

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“Shortage of fertilizer, lengthy clearance process by the Kenya Bureau of Standards, breakdown of machines at Electronic Certification System (ECS) and maintenance of airports during peak seasons are some of the challenges facing the Horticultural Industry reducing our competitiveness in the International market,” said FPEAK boss Hosea Machuki.

The sector also highlighted taxation and levies at county and national level together with imposition of 16 percent VAT on pesticide and failure of VAT return estimated Sh3.5 billion as additional challenges.

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Statistically, Kenya was ranked as the highest producer of cut-flowers in the international market with 40 percent market share and second on fresh produce export after Colombia.

In sub-Saharan Africa it ranked second in exportation of flowers and fruits to foreign markets jmj after South Africa.

It also came second in Africa after Morocco in fresh vegetable supply in the international market.

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