NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The number of flowers produced by small-scale
farmers in Kenya has been on the rise in recent years, but few
are able to sell them in the export market due to high freight
It costs up to 400 shillings (4 U.S. dollars)
per kilo to ship flowers to America or the European Union via
Schiphol in the Netherlands, according to the Kenya Flower
Council (KFC), an amount that is too high for smallholder
Most small-scale farmers in the east African nation grow
summer flowers that include eryngium and arabicum, which are
bulky, thus, attract high freight charges.
The latter is the most common because it is highly sought in
the export market to blend roses because of its beautiful white
and yellow flowers.
"Production of arabicum is common among small-scale summer
flower growers in Kenya because it is an easy out-door product.
However, the supply to the market has kept on reducing over
the years," Anita Mureithi of the Royal FloraHolland Kenya
Limited said on Wednesday.
Unlike roses or gypsophila, summer flowers like arabicum are
heavy, therefore, one pays more freight costs, which have also
kept on increasing.
"The product is bulky and freight costs keep on increasing.
"Some growers are, therefore, switching to light products as
they aim for bigger profit margins," she said.
The situation has forced some small-scale farmers in Kenya
who produce small volumes to sell through agents, and therefore
"Before I got into the business, I looked for market first
from a local agent since it is expensive to export your own
"I then worked with the buyer’s agronomist to ensure that the
flowers I produce were acceptable to them," said Thomas Sang, a
farmer in Bomet, who sells the products to Wilmar Flowers based
Besides arabicum and eryngium, other popular summer flowers
are ammi, mobydick, tuberosa, onis and claspedia.
The flowers are mainly grown in Machakos, Bomet, Limuru,
Thika, Kisii, Kericho, Murang’a, Kiambu and Nyeri.
However, some farmers like Josephine Mutuku, who grows the
crop in Machakos on two acres, exports directly to the
"I have partnered with another farmer from the county, we
therefore bulk our produce and export to a buyer in the
"This way we share the freight charges but it is certainly
expensive due to the big nature of the arabicum flowers we
farm," she said, noting she produces 200,000 stems and sells
each at 0.05 dollars.
However, Kenya’s major cut flower export products are roses,
with the east African nation shipping about a billion stems
annually to Europe through the Netherlands, earning 1 billion
dollars in 2017, according to the KFC.
From arabicum last year, Kenyan small-scale farmers exported
193,796 kilos directly, latest data from the flower council
This is equivalent to 415,348 dollars but the figure could be
higher if the value of those who export through agents is
Clement Tulezi, the chief executive of KFC, said the
institution is working to unlock trade and non-trade barriers in
emerging and new markets for Kenyan farmers, both small and big.
It also maintains relations with buyer associations and
support exporters to conform with requirements of existing