New market frontiers as the USA welcomes Kenyan carnations

Thu, May 20, 2021

Last year, Kenya exported about 142.5 million kg of flowers, earning the country an estimated Ksh108.7 billion

Kenyan flower farmers and exporters are upbeat about the new business possibilities that have been opened by the decision of the United States government to allow the importation of previously-banned carnations from Kenya.

In a move that local farmers say will boost employment and incomes, the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has permitted the importation of carnation cuttings from Kenya without any quarantine requirements.

“The cuttings can be imported, under certain conditions, without resulting in the introduction into, or the dissemination within, the United States of a plant pest,” said APHIS.

Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya CEO Okisegere Ojepat said the approval would serve to expand the exports of cut flowers to the US. “We are excited that we have a new market for carnations,” he told local journalists.

Last year, Kenya exported about 142.5 million kg of flowers, earning the country an estimated Ksh108.7 billion. This was an improvement in income from 2019, when the country produced about 173.7 million kg but which fetched Ksh104.1 billion in foreign exchange. The main flowers grown in Kenya include roses, carnations, alstroemeria, gypsophila, and lilies.

Stringent conditions

The US said its scientists had determined that the carnation cuttings would pose no additional risk of pest introduction into the United States and could be safely imported. The approval followed a request by Kenya through its National Plant Protection Organisation.

The farms where the carnation cuttings will have to be registered and to meet stringent conditions imposed by the US, “with well-maintained insect-proof screening and other pest risk mitigation measures.”

The US has been missing from the list of Kenya’s traditional markets for flowers and other horticultural produce. Kenya’s main markets are the UK and continental Europe, with substantial exports to the Middle East as well.

Photo Credit: Paukwa

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