Vegetable and fruits farmers in Naivasha are staring at closure of their farms following the Coronavirus pandemic that has seen cargo flights to various EU countries suspended.
Already, fifty percent of the workers have been sent home with fears that the numbers could rise in the coming days as the pandemic continued to affect more countries.
Exports have dropped by fifty percent while flight charges have tripped in the last one month due to a shortage of cargo planes.
According to Edward Mureu, the proprietor of Naivasha based Rubi ranch, the country was staring at hunger and major job losses in the coming months. https://youtu.be/8uQiZYZn0tY
Mureu noted that Kenya Airways and British Airways had cancelled all their flights to EU leading to a crisis in exporting their products.
“For years we have relied on the two airways to export our products and with their closure we have moved to other airways that are charging triple the normal prices,” he said.
Speaking during a tour of his farm, Mureu noted that already he had been forced to send home fifty percent of his workforce meaning a drop in their production.
“The demand in various European countries has also dropped sharply due to the lockdown meaning we have to reduce our production and also workforce,” he said.
The farmer who deals with French beans, broccoli, baby corn among other produce called on the government to zero-rate farm inputs and lower the cost of electricity tariffs.
“The curfew has also affected us as workers have to work lesser hours and we also produce for the local market which could be affected by the current challenges,” he said.
One of the workers Fanice Nasimiyu said that the disease had raised fear and anxiety among the workers who had no other source of livelihood.
“Our colleagues have been sent home, production has gone down due to the Coronavirus crisis and we do not know the fate our jobs,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the CEO Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) Wesley Siele noted that the drop in the exports had been contributed to the limited movement of consumers in Europe.
Siele said that supermarkets mainly in the UK, Sweden and Russia were still ordering the fresh produce from the country though getting cargo flights was the main challenge.
“People have to eat despite the pandemic and though the exports have dropped to 50 percent the fresh produce exporters are doing better unlike the flower farmers,” he said.