85. Coronavirus Kills Demand for Kenya’s Flowers

Kenya is the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world.

Source: Bloomberg.com, Workers measure roses at a production company in Naivasha, Kenya. Photographer: Andrew Renneisen

Famed for being long-lasting, Kenya’s roses, carnations and summer flowers are popular in the UK, Russia and the U.S.
The country’s flower power is attributed to its sunny climate, which enables high-quality blossoms to be grown year-round without the need for expensive-to-run greenhouses.

Kenya also has excellent transport links to Europe through Nairobi’s airport, which has a terminal dedicated specifically to the transport of flowers and vegetables. This means that delicate floral cargo can be shifted from growers to consumers swiftly.

In March, with plans to increase their share of the U.S. market, several growers showcased their blooms at the World Floral Expo in the U.S.

Just days later, the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Farmers in Kenya are now having to leave their roses to rot.
Flower farms in Kenya are dumping about 50 tons of flowers daily.

Farms are exporting only 20% of the cut flowers that they would normally send daily to markets including the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany. The rest are being destroyed.
The industry is being forced to cut wages and trim its workforce of more than 150,000 people.