The Kenya Flower Council Chairman Mr. Richard Fox has challenged the government to improve the ease of doing business in Kenya. He said this during The Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Conference held at the Safari Park Hotel on January 22, 2015. The event was organized by the USAID-funded Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP) in conjunction with the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) and the Fresh Produce and Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK).
He acknowledged the progress made by the government on removing some of the constraints that have held back the growth of the horticulture industry. He added that despite a number of challenges, there is constructive interaction at both central and county government levels and a willingness to create an environment for business to flourish.
Mr. Fox said that the flowers industry needs a national policy to link wage increases to increases in productivity and that recognizes that wages in our industry are already substantially above statutory minimums and blanket increases in percentage terms are not sustainable.
He called on the government to provide landing rights to new freight operators prepared to service additional destinations where growth in sales has been witnessed for example US, Japan and Russia. The sector also needs more government support to promote the Kenya brand as an unrivalled source of sustainably grown quality flowers. Financial support to participate in international trade shows and floricultural exhibitions would play a key role.
On the other hand reduced cost of inputs, management of labour costs, support for private sector industry initiatives to promote quality and sustainable production would also drive the sector to the next level.
Mr. Fox further said that the growers will continue working more closely with KEPHIS to achieve the quality of service needed to support the operational needs of the industry and at the same time meet the required market standards.
The conference acted as a catalyst in defining and implementing a strategic action plan to reposition the horticulture industry over the next five years and strengthen the global impact of Brand Kenya in flowers, fruits, vegetables, and associated processed foods. More than 400 delegates including senior policy makers, exporters, and technical advisors drawn from across the country attended the conference. Among the dignitaries included PS Agriculture, Cecily Kariuki, Sylvie Mamias of Union Fleurs, Ian Chesterman of KHCP, Christophe De Vroey of EU delegation amongst others.