The Agricultural and Horticultural sectors have received a boost after the introduction of an additional two weekly Air France KLM Martinair cargo flights exporting 45-50 tons of cut flowers and other perishable products from Kenya to the Netherlands.
The flights; KLM Boeing 777-300 passenger aircrafts, with ample belly capacity, which have started operating this week and are in addition to the existing full freighter flights Air France KLM Martinair which continue to operate regularly. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya has indicated that the move is aimed at fostering economic ties and ensuring that trade links between Kenya and the Netherlands remain strong.
The move comes as a welcome reprieve for the country’s distressed Agricultural and Horticultural sectors which have been experiencing continually dwindling earnings as effects of the Covid -19 pandemic continue to set in.
The past two weeks had seen some flower farms across the country resorting to destroying flowers worth millions every day as the produce has been unable to reach the EU market which has been the main export destination.
Naivasha county, the epicenter of the horticultural sector in Kenya recently reported that a number of flower farm companies in the region had sent advisory to employees indicating that they might be unable to afford salaries in the coming months. This is after more than 2000 workers had been sent on a two week leave as the crisis in the sector deepened.
According to the secretary-general Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union (KEFHAU) David Omulama, over fifteen farms had already sent part of their workers home. This is despite the government’s promise to support flower farms in the wake of the killer virus that has negatively impacted on economies globally.
Flower exports are among the country’s top three foreign exchange earners generating in excess of Kshs 104 billion annually. In this regard, the Netherlands has been a key trade partner for Kenya accounting for the largest export market for Kenyan products in Europe and the leading destination for Kenya’s cut flowers, vegetables and fruits.
Trade statistics from 2014 to 2018 indicate that the Netherlands has consistently been ranked as the leading country in Europe when it comes to purchasing Kenyan exports. During the same period, Kenya’s exports to the Netherlands amounted to Kshs 216.4 billion against imports from the Netherlands totaling Kshs 94.7 billion; signifying a Kshs 121.7 billion trade balance heavily skewed in favour of Kenya.
This year marks the 56th anniversary of the bilateral relations between the Netherlands and Kenya.