News and knowhow for farmers

Fertiliser shortage causes crisis in Kenyan flower farms

flower council

Kenyan flower farms are facing an acute shortage of fertilizer due to delays by the Kenya Bureau of Standards to release 1.6m tonnes of fertiliser stuck at the port of Mombasa still awaiting inspection by the standards body.

750,000 metric tonnes of the fertilizer is held by Elgon Kenya while 880,000 is held by Yala awaiting inspection by KEBS.

According to the Kenya Flower Council, the sector has faced the crisis since June this year.

“Flower production might drop in quantity and quality in the next season and 150,000 employees may be rendered jobless due to the shortage,” said Clement Tulezi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Flower Council.

In June this year, KEBS Managing Director Charles Ongwae and nine other managers were arrested over importation of 5.846m of sub-standard fertilizer by OCP Kenya Ltd.

The fertilizer was tested twice according to the Director of Public Prosecutions but failed to meet the standards set KEBS but was nevertheless released to the market instead of being destroyed or being returned to the country of origin, Morocco.

While KEBS has traditionally certified the quality of fertilizers in the country of origin before shipment, it has introduced a new set of rules which include re inspecting all consignments at the port of entry as it seeks to tame proliferation of counterfeits.

Previously, the process to clear the fertilizer at the port took a period of one week. However, at the moment the process has dragged on for five months with no set deadline for release of the fertilizer into the market.

Related content

New pigeon pea variety does not need fertilizer and is suitable for short season rains

Tea farmers affected as global fertilizer prices rise by 15 per cent

Government says farmers who fail to register risk losing out on subsidized fertilizer

Flowers at a farm in Kenya.

“Fertilizer suppliers are incurring up two million shillings daily in demurrage which they are passing to us , further pushing the cost of producing flowers up,” said Mary Kinyua, the Director of Human Resources at Oserian flower farm.

The Kenya flower sector has been an upward trend since 1988 but with the current fertilizer shortage, the peak season of flowers beginning in the December festive season up to Valentine’s Day in February will be affected.

Kenya has recorded growth in volume and value of cut flowers exported every year from 10,946 tons in 1988 compared to 86,480 tons in 2006, 120,220 tons in 2010, 136,601 tons in 2014, 133,658 in 2016 and 159, 961 tons in 2017. According to Horticultural Crop Directorate (HCD) in 2017, the floriculture industry earned $823m.

Kenya is the lead exporter of roses to the European Union (EU) with a market share of about 38 per cent. Approximately 50 per cent of exported flowers are sold through the Dutch Auctions, although direct sales are growing. Kenya flowers are sold in more than 60 countries.


Get our news into your email inbox every week

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top