How delays at Mombasa port may affect Kenya’s flower exports

New stringent measures on local inspection of all fertilizer imports in Kenya have resulted in delays at the country’s Mombasa port and is believed to have caused a massive shortage of fertilizer and flower in the country.

According to floriculturist and flower exporter, Oserian Development Company, the lengthy clearance process which previously took an average of 2 hours from the time the Mombasa Port Release Orders (MPROs) and customs entries are received from customs authority to the time the client is issued his invoice now takes up to 2 months before the consignments get to the owners.

Last week, Kenyan government directed that all fertilizer imports be inspected at Mombasa port to ease the increase in fertilizer prices after which every tested consignment that meets the Kenyan Bureau of Standards (KEBS) requirements will be released. In an attempt to get rid of counterfeit and substandard fertilizerer penetrating the country, this re-inspection, done after KEBS’s initial certification of the quality of fertilizers in the country of origin before shipment, have caused delays and scarcity.

Previously, Kenya’s flower industry has suffered because of drought, bad weather, pest/disease pressure as well as a high production cost.

Following this re-inspection exercise, the price of fertilizer has increased by 21.6 percent. Retailers now sell a 50-kilogram bag of Calcium Nitrate (CAN) at Sh2800 ($27.8), up from Sh2250 ($22.3), mainly because wholesalers who used to buy fertilizer at Sh1800 now buy it at Sh2250.

Mary Kinyua, Oserian’s Director of Human Resources stated that the fertilizer suppliers are incurring up to Sh2 million shillings daily in demurrage, further pushing up the cost of producing flowers. With the way things are going, there would be a dip in yields and flower prices may increase further. This would make Kenyan flowers costlier at the competitive global market, Oserian predicts.

Live trees, plants, cut flowers worth $595.6 million accounted for 10.4 percent of Kenya’s exports in 2017.