Covid rules deny flower farmers cash

Saturday, February 13th, 2021 06:15 |
An employee at Naivasha-based Maridadi Flower Farm works on roses for exports, yesterday. Photo/PD/Kirera Mwiti

Kenya Flower Council (KFC) yesterday decried rising taxes as the Valentine’s Day beckons.  

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Clement Tulezi said the high taxes are a major impediment to the sector.

With only a day to lover’s day, flower farmers can only ship out 75 per cent of their produce due to lack of flights and space among airlines involved in cargo transport.

The reduction has been attributed to the stringent regulations by airlines and European countries that have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Farmers currently ship out 4,000 metric tonnes of flowers weekly.

Tulezi said this had reduced by 1,000 metric tonnes, due to lack of space, adding that demand for the produce was high despite strict lockdown regulations in Europe.

“The biggest challenge we are currently facing is lack of flights, poor weather in Europe and the ever rising taxes in the country,” he said.

In an interview, Tulezi accused the State of unfairly targeting the sector that was among the top taxpayers in the country.

He said the recently introduced crop levy, under the horticulture crop regulations would further affect flower farmers who were already over-taxed.

Biggest worry

“The government is broke and the only way it can raise revenue is targeting organised sectors like flower farmers with more taxes. This is one way of killing the sector,” he said.

This was echoed by one of the leading flower farmers in Naivasha, Jack Kneppers, who said taxes, flight charges and the cost of farm inputs had risen sharply.

Kneppers, the MD of Maridadi Flower Farm, added they were currently shipping over 300,000 stems of roses daily ahead of the lover’s day.

“Our biggest worry is the weather in Europe where it is snowing heavily. This might affect transport of flowers,” he said.

Kneppers further noted that at the height of the pandemic, flower farmers had been forced to discard nearly all their produce, noting that this had changed with 95 per cent of the roses being exported.

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