Naivasha: Flower farms optimistic as Dutch Auction markets re-open reckoning a 50% increase in exports.

After a month of gloom and dumping of roses, flower farms in Naivasha have slowly returned to market and started exporting the produce.

With the reopening of the collapsed Dutch Auction and Kenya Airways increasing cargo flights, the farmers have increased their shipment by 50 percent in the last two weeks.

The farmers are optimistic that the lockdown in various European countries will be reviewed as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreck havoc in various sectors.

With production on the rise, the farmers have been forced to introduce stringent measures including screening of temperatures and provision of masks for their workers.

According to Jack Kneppers the owner of Maridadi flower farm, they were shipping out flower four times a week unlike in the past daily production went to waste.

He attributed this to the reopening of the Dutch auction and some supermarkets in Europe where they shipped majority of their flowers.

“At the moment we are shipping out over 50 percent to the European market and disposing around 20 percent on the days that demand is low,” he said.

Speaking in his farm, the seasoned farmer said that they had been forced to uproot 15 percent of their crop due to the crisis caused by the pandemic.

“The situation is improving by the day and we are still waiting for the VAT refunds as promised by the government,” he said.

On safety measures, Kneppers said that workers had been provided with face masks and were observing social distancing as per the government directives.

“We are making sure that every morning and afternoon the workers temperatures are recorded and they wash their hands every now and then,” he said.

The supervisor in charge of grading Ruth Oyack said that the company had retained all its workers despite the current crisis.

“Since Kenya Airways reintroduced cargo flights we are shipping out flowers four times in a week based on demand from our clients,” she said.

She added that they were keenly following up the laid out regulations by providing their workers with masks and sanitizers.

This was echoed by the workers welfare officer Joseph Wanyonyi who noted that the pandemic had affected many in the sector.

“We were worried about our fate but we are glad that production has resumed though low and we are observing safety rues like hand washing and wearing of masks,” he said.

Speaking earlier, the CEO Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) Wesley Siele noted that the drop in the exports had 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 high flight charge was the main challenge.

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