"We have not been able to ship flowers and our fear is that we could lose the market if the Russia-Ukraine crisis is not resolved," Tulezi said, recalling that Kenya exported to Russia and Ukraine cut flowers and ornamentals valued at approximately US$155 million in 2021.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that the east African nation exported approximately 210,000 tons of flowers worth US$952 million in 2021, making the fresh produce among the top foreign exchange earner alongside tea, diaspora remittances and tourism.
Tulezi observed that over 70 percent of flower exports are sold to the European Union mostly through the Dutch flower auction. "Our other key markets include Japan, Australia, China and the Middle East region," he added.
Both Russia and Ukraine are in the top five exporters of wheat in the world, accounting for almost 1/3 of global wheat exports.
African and Arab countries will face huge challenges as exports are reduced or disrupted, and financial speculation drives food prices to new heights. pic.twitter.com/oa2ipnjjDl
Flower growers, who were dependent on the Russian and Ukraine markets, are seeking alternative markets in order to remain afloat.
Ojepat Okisegere, CEO of Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, said that flower exports to Russia were stopped when the country was excluded from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payment platform.
"Our exporters can no longer receive payments from Russia hence we cannot sell to them," Okisegere said, noting that the flower sector has also been affected by the Russian trade blockade as the country is also a key source of Kenya's fertilizer imports.