Is the worst over for Kenyan horticulture? [with updates]

Nick Wadhams from Naivasha in The Guardian: European flight paralysis exacts high price on Kenyan flower trade:

The ash cloud over Europe stopped most flights out of Kenya last Wednesday night. Now the horticulture industry is losing about $2m a day from the disruption and thousands of casual labourers – some of whom make a few dollars a day – have been laid off.

Some farmers hope the worst may be over. Two cargo flights left Kenya early on Monday after a number of airports in southern Europe opened up, and a KLM cargo flight left in the afternoon.

“I don’t think that four days is going to bankrupt the Kenyan flower industry,” said Peter Szapary, owner of Wildfire Flowers in Naivasha. “But if it goes on for two weeks then it will be a problem for us.”

Oserian managed to fly 40 tonnes of flowers to Spain on Sunday morning. tTrucks were making the 30-hour trip to the UK and the Netherlands to deliver them to supermarkets and the Dutch flower auction.

The company is paying 60%-70% more in freight charges and does not yet know how much it has lost from the disruption. What it does know is that 3m flowers so far have been disposed of.

[Update] See this interesting post about Naivasha on Nick’s blog: “Murder on the Lake” :

Naivasha is in some ways emblematic of the larger problems facing Kenya. A handful of whites live in gorgeous houses along the shore of Lake Naivasha. Next to them are the flower farms that contribute so much to the economy but also pay their workers very poorly and suck huge amounts of water from the lake. And behind are the dusty slums where hundreds of thousands of people live in terrible poverty. The lake is gorgeous, and so are the flowers that grow next to it, but sometimes it seems that such beauty comes at too high a human cost.

[2nd Update]-“British skies to reopen as EU strikes ash deal”, TimesOnline

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