Flower farms brace for tough times ahead as coronavirus hits sector hard

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 24 Mar, 2020 13:00 | 2 mins read
flower farms

Flower farms in Naivasha have warned that they might be unable to pay their workers as the crisis in sector deepens because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But various farms, however, assured workers that they will receive their March salaries.

This came even as the government pledged to support the horticulture sector as coronavirus impacts negatively on economies globally.

Already, over 2,000 workers have been sent on a two-week paid leave by their respective farms due to the collapse of the Dutch auction which buys over 50 percent of flower exports from the country. 

In the last one week, some flower farms have resorted to destroying flowers worth millions of shillings every day as the product can no longer reach the European market. 

Naivasha Sub-County Commissioner Mathioya Mbogo said that the flower sector is critical to the country’s economy, adding the national government would release support incentives to investors. 

Futher, Mr. Mbogo said senior government officers had visited the affected farms and pledged support measures. 

He appealed to the tens of flower farms not to sack workers as this would lead to a major crisis.

The proprietor of Maridadi flower farm, Jack Kneppers, said that they would be making a major decision this week and confirmed that they have salaries for this month but was unsure for the coming months as they relied on sales to make payments.

“Early in the week, we sent 150 workers home as we monitor the situation and nothing has changed meaning we could send more home,” said the farmer who has employed 750 workers.

He regretted that the farm was making losses running to over Sh500,000 every day and spending all their daily collection, an indication he said might force the farm to close down if things do not improve. 

According to the Secretary-General Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union David Omulama, over 15 farms have already sent part of their workers home. 

Omulama said that in most cases, the employers had agreed to pay the workers their salaries in the period that they would be away as they monitored the situation.