Horticulture Industry Facing Closure over COVID19
Naivasha vegetable and fruit farmers are facing tough times which might lead to a closure of their firms following COVID19 negative impacts on the cargo flights to European Union countries.
Currently, over 50 per cent of the workers have been sent home after flight suspension, and the number might rise with time as flight charges have tripled due to cargo flights shortage.
According to Agricultural Employers Association CEO Wesley Siele, the negative shift has been brought about by the limitation of movement of consumers in Europe hence a decline in exports.
He further stated that despite the demand from supermarkets in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Russia, getting a cargo was the biggest challenge.
“People have to eat despite the pandemic, and though the exports have dropped by 50 per cent, the fresh produce exporters are doing better unlike the flower farmers,” he said.
Edward Mureu, on the other hand, added that various international had cancelled all their flights to EU countries, hence exportation crisis. According to him, the state ought to brace for tough times ahead as more workers might lose their jobs.
“For years, we have relied on the two airlines to export our products, and with their closure, we have moved to other carriers that are charging triple the normal prices,” he said.
“The demand in European countries has also dropped sharply due to lockdowns, meaning we have to reduce our production and workforce,” he added.
He further pleaded with the government to consider zero-rating farm inputs and lower electricity bills.
“The curfew has also affected us, as workers have to work fewer hours. We also produce for the local market, which could be affected by the current challenges,” he said.
Edward Mureu, is the proprietor of Naivasha-based Rubi Ranch and currently grows French beans, broccoli and baby corn, among other produce.