The current shortage of soluble fertilizer that is used to enhance growth of flowers could hurt exports, a lobby group warned on Friday.
Clement Tulezi, chief executive officer of Kenya Flower Council (KFC), said that a lack of soluble fertilizer that is dissolved into water used for irrigating flower farms has compromised the quality and volumes of the produce.
“Unfortunately, this means prices of flowers would go up and farmers could lose in the competitive world market,” said Tulezi.
Each month, about 2,000 tonnes of the soluble fertilizer is required to meet the demand of at least 250 flower farms.
Since June last year there has been a shortage of the fertilizer imported from countries including Israel, Norway, Canada and Germany, Belgium, due to the government’s stringent inspection of products coming into the country.
“The fertilizers are lying at the port of Mombasa awaiting inspection and clearance by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBs). The storage charges have gone up and the costs will be pushed to the farmers,” said Tulezi.
“Unfortunately, farmers have signed contract with the buyers and cannot breach it. They cannot sell at the higher price not agreed on in the contract. They are forced to sell at loss,” he added.
The government through the standards agency began re-inspecting imports in June last year, following concerns of counterfeit products making their way into the country, a move that has put on waiting list loads of products including fertilizer.
Tulezi said the government should revert to using certificate of conformity to clear the fertilizers as further delays would greatly disrupt the flower industry.
Before the new rules were effected, goods to be imported were inspected at the country of origin prior to shipment and importers awarded certificate of conformity upon satisfying pre-export verification of conformity standards.
Currently, the consignments have to be re-inspected to ensure they are not counterfeits.
Data from Kenya Flower Council indicate that flowers earned Kenya some 113 billion shilling (about 1.13 billion U.S. dollars) out of the total 1.53 billion dollars horticulture revenues raised in 2018. Enditem