Demand for Kenyan flowers in the EU market has risen by five percent ahead of Valentine’s Day, according to the flower industry.
The slow growth has been attributed to the move by Britain to withdraw from the EU (Brexit), which has weakened the sterling pound.
According to George Onyango, the Human Resource manager at Van Den Berg flower farm, the demand had however shot up by 20 percent compared to December 2016.
“Demand for the flowers have shot up by 20 percent as from December as Valentine is always our peak season,” Onyango said.
Speaking during a tour to the farm that produces 500,000 roses daily, Onyango said that the sector had a bright future despite challenges.
“Roses love sunny and warm conditions and the ongoing dry weather which has negatively affected parts of the country has turned out to be a blessing for the flower farmers,” he said.
He was however quick to point to failure to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as a major threat to the lucrative sector.
Onyango warned that failure to sign the agreement in time would see the country’s floriculture product slapped with a new tax, making them less competitive in the market.
“If slapped with a new tax our products will become less competitive and give an advantage to our competitors like Ethiopia,” he said.
The Kenyan flower industry is betting on this year’s Valentine’s Day to increase sales volume after depressed performance last fall.
Industry players in their predictions earlier this week noted that demand for red roses will peak countdown to Valentine’s Day in both the local and overseas market.
The Kenya Flower Council CEO Jane Ngige said that they were keenly following the issue of the agreement.
“The East African Community summit will be meeting later this month and we are looking forward to this meeting where the issue of EPA will be addressed,” she said.
On Valentine, Ngige admitted that there was minimal change in demand compared to last year but was quick to note that the sector was doing well.
“Though production is on the rise due to the conducive weather for flowers, we saw a marginal rise in demand for flowers ahead of Valentine,” she said.
Ngige added that the move by Britain to withdraw from the EU had devalued the Sterling Pound by 15 percent meaning lower returns for farmers.
“Farmers are now using more cash on water due to the ongoing drought but as projected the sector is gradually growing despite emerging challenges,” Ngige said.
Several flower vendors who occupy a large swathe of Nairobi’s city market were in ecstatic mood on Monday as signs of better days ahead became visible.
Caroline Musyoka, a 44 year old mother of two relaxed in a wooden bench outside her stall as she waited for customers.
The digital savvy businessman took photos of bouquets of red roses neatly arranged inside his stall to send them to customers through social media platforms.
Kenyan flower vendors devised innovative ways to lure customers ahead of the Valentines’ Day against a backdrop of stiff competition and declining purchasing power.
At the entrance of Nairobi’s City Market, female flower vendors were making frantic attempts to win customers by offering discounted prices and free souvenirs.
A young female vendor who identified herself as Margaret put on a broad smile as she engaged customers enticed by the brightly colored and aromatic rose petals.
Margaret and her business partners settled for nothing less in their bid to win the hearts and minds of reluctant customers.
“The freshness and aroma of flowers is a key consideration among many clients. We had to purchase flower vases made of organic material and wrap them with brightly colored ribbons to attract customers,” Margaret said.
Kenyans from all walks of life were determined to spend their last coin and treat their loved ones during the Valentine’s Day on Tuesday going by a random survey conducted in the markets and shopping malls where flowers and other romantic items filled the shelves. Enditem