On March 2018, Australian authorities introduced the new regulations which are expected to come into force on September 1.
As per the new biosecurity measures, Australia now requires importers to apply for import permits to be issued upon compliance with measures to reduce the high volume of live pests in cut flowers. Flower consignments from Kenya are often intercepted due to pests such as thrips, moths and mites.
“The import permits will allow the department to reduce the biosecurity risk and more rapidly address non-compliance of individual importers,” said Marion Healy, head of plant biosecurity at the Australian Department of Agriculture.
Flowers exported to Australia must also now be fumigated at the country of origin, unlike before when exporters were fumigating them in Australia.
Kenya failed to meetup the new regulation
Australia gave the target countries who supply cut flower exporters to the country namely; Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya time to comply, extending the effective date three times.
However, despite having more than a year to put systems for compliance in place, Kenyan exporters haven’t yet met the new standards. Only a few have what it takes to access the market after September 1.
Colombia and Ecuador on the other hand have already complied leaving them to enjoy the ‘spoils’ at Kenya’s expense. The Australian Department of Agriculture has said there will be no further extension.
Loss of the Australian market will be a blow to Kenya
Clement Tulezi, Kenya Flower Council chief executive said the country is now staring at ban on Australian market.
“The conditions are stringent and most exporters have not complied. We expect some to stop exporting to Australia if they cannot fumigate or guarantee zero pests,” said Tulezi.
The loss of the Australian market will be a blow to Kenyan businesses, that have been trying to diversify their markets and end dependence on Europe, where competition has become cutthroat.
The EU is Kenya’s biggest market consuming 66% of the flowers. The Australian market is, however, slowly booming and Kenya exports on average 170 tonnes of cut flowers to Australia monthly, earning about $24 million annually.
“Australia is a growing market with huge potential and we cannot afford to lose it if we are to succeed in diversification,” said Mr Tulezi.
Last year, the flower sector was among the top three foreign exchange earners, generating $1 billion. Apart from EU and Australia Kenya’s other key markets are Japan and China while efforts to enter Russia, Turkey, South Korea and India are ongoing.