Flower exporting countries like Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are facing a loss of millions of euros if the ash cloud persists and continues to shut down air traffic to and from Europe.
According to the Kenya Flower Council, the sector is losing two million dollars a day.
“Flowers are spoiling, and also we’ve been forced to incur a lot of expenses to keep the flowers in the cold rooms in the airports,” says McCarthy Imende, sales and marketing manager of Ken-Net, one of Kenya’s flower exporters.
“We’re going to have a problem with the cashflow. Because even paying our workers now will be a problem… the money that we would have gotten for the shipment, we aren’t going to get it.”
Flowers are Kenya’s third highest exports, after tourism and tea.
Imende says shipments of flowers to Scandinavia and the UK have been interrupted, as well as to the United States, as he sends flowers to Miami on British Airways and Virgin flights, which have been cancelled.
Despite the lack of transportation, farmers have to continue production.
“The farmers are harvesting the flowers, trying to store them in the cold storage as much as they can,” says Imende.
“If the situation remains the same, then the farms will be forced to stop harvesting, and this will lead to so much loss.”