Kenya’s Floral Industry Threatened by Catastrophic Floods.

By Joe Aura,


Have you ever wondered where most flowers during Mother’s Day come from and where they go afterward? Most flowers for export in Kenya are grown around Lake Naivasha, which is estimated to have 1200 hectares under flower cultivation. Of this area, 70% is dedicated to roses alone. Other regions where flowers are grown include the Mount Kenya region, Nairobi, Athi River, Kitale, Thika, Nakuru, Kericho, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, and Eastern Kenya.

The Kenyan climate, abundant water supply, and hardworking workforce contribute to Kenya’s success as a top flower producer. These flowers are primarily exported to the European Union (EU), with significant markets in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and other EU countries.

This Mother’s day, Kenya faced a severe blow to its floral industry following recent catastrophic floods. The sector, pivotal to the nation’s economy, reels under the impact of damaged infrastructure, disrupted supply chains, and price hikes. Roses, emblematic of Kenya’s horticultural prowess, stand as the primary revenue driver, fetching a substantial $560 million last year alone [Fast Company | Business News, Innovation, Technology, Work Life and Design]. Cultivated in vast greenhouses and farms encircling Nairobi, these blooms constitute a cornerstone of Kenya’s export economy.

However, the recent deluge wreaked havoc on the industry. Floodwaters ravaged greenhouses, hampered transportation networks, and severely curtailed flower production [Deadly Floods Threaten East Africa’s Crucial Flower Industry]. As Mother’s Day approached, a critical peak period for exports, the damage dealt a significant blow to Kenya’s capacity to meet international demand.

During periods like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, Nairobi becomes a bustling hub of floral activity, with millions of flowers destined for European markets [Fresh Cut Flowers From Kenya – Supplying Florists – Aisha Flowers]. Yet, this year, the deluge has stymied these efforts, leading to diminished supplies and potential price escalations in European markets.

While the United States may not directly rely on Kenyan flower imports—preferring sources primarily from South America—the ramifications of such climate-related calamities reverberate across global supply chains. Extreme weather events like these underscore the vulnerability of interconnected markets, with disruptions in one region cascading to impact prices worldwide.

For Kenya, the challenge lies not only in immediate recovery but also in fortifying its resilience against future climate-induced crises. The floral industry, a vital lifeline for countless livelihoods, calls for concerted efforts in bolstering infrastructure, implementing sustainable practices, and diversifying risk to mitigate the impacts of such disasters. As the floodwaters recede and Kenya endeavors to rebuild cognizant of the broader implications for global trade and the imperative of safeguarding against the ravages of climate change, remember to gift flowers whenever you can to promote businesses and bring a smile.

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