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Scent of global flower slot beckons Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4 – Kenya could soon join an elite international group of horticultural growers if its petition to be nominated as one of the members of Executive Committee is accepted.

Kenya Flower Council Chairman Erastus Mureithi disclosed on Monday that they are lobbying to join the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH), a move that will enable it to effectively champion the interests of local growers.

"As they are now looking for one of the members from Africa to represent the flower growers in the world, we are proposing that Kenya becomes nominated as one of the members," he said.

Mr Mureithi expressed optimism that their appeal would be considered favourably particularly since the association is holding its annual conference in Nairobi this week making it the first time that the group was having the meeting in Africa.

"Since they decided after my invitation to come and hold the meeting in Nairobi, we are trying to see by the end of tomorrow (Tuesday) that probably Kenya will be one of the members of the Executive Committee which will be a great honour for the country," he enthused.

The Executive Committee is formed by the President, the Secretary General, the chairman from the standing committees and eight members representing seven regions including China, India, Japan, Canada Europe and South America.

Time and again, the global horticulture sector has been on the receiving end especially when it comes to the enactment of unfavourable policies most of which involves introduction of different taxes; but with membership in the committee, Kenya hopes to add its voice in protesting such decisions and lobbying for friendlier legislation.

"If for instance they are going to introduce carbon miles or what they are calling CO2 taxation in Europe which is going to put a lot of costs on our flowers, when we are together in this group and others that we are involved in, we would be in a position to negotiate with them," he explained.

KFC has been a member of AIPH since 2006 and is the only representative from the African continent and having its issue address at the European market level will be of benefit to the local industry as a whole.

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This is particularly important since Kenya is the largest supplier of high quality cut flowers to Europe and in particular to the Netherlands flower auctions.

Despite this achievement however, the sector has been facing various challenges ranging from adverse weather conditions to competition from upcoming growers such as Ethiopia.

The Executive Committee\’s President Dr Doeke Faber who is attending the meeting in Nairobi said with the entry of Kenya, the two parties will form a mutually beneficial relationship that will help address the constraints that they face. 

"Kenya can enhance the work that we do and we have a lot to offer because we have a seat on a number of very important global bodies which would enable us to answer to their answers and questions," Dr Faber pointed out.

Assistant Minister Gideon Ndambuki was also at hand to sell the country as a good investment destination and urged investors to take advantage of incentives provided to further grow the Sh250billion sector.

This call came at a time when KFC expects the sector to do well this year buoyed by favourable weather conditions, a recovering global economy and relatively high prices for the horticulture products.

Although statistics for the first quarter of this year are still being collated, The Council\’s Chief Executive Officer Jane Ngige said all indications are that the performance of the first quarter will be good boosted by a successful Valentines Day sale.

It is projected that the momentum will be sustained during the upcoming Mothers\’ and Fathers\’ Day celebrations.

The industry has been posting good volumes and returns but in 2010 it was negatively affected by the volcanic ash and adverse cold weather that hit Europe leading to a 15 percent decline in earnings.

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