How Icelands Volcano Impacted the Flower Industry

The effect of Iceland’s volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, on the flower industry is devastating. One may think that the volcano being in Iceland will have no effect on the flower industry. Eyjafjallajokull has indeed already wreaked havoc on the world’s flower industry. Several countries that export flowers have been affected.

The Kenyan Flower Industry

Kenya is extremely important to the flower industry. The floriculture (flowers and ornamentals) of Kenya has experienced significant growth. Kenya has ideal climate to grow flowers year round. Nairobi, the capital, is a hub for major airlines, giving easy air access to the European market, and from there, the rest of the world. Kenya supplies a large amount of cut flowers to the EU, which is believed to purchase 50% of the world’s flowers. With market diversification, the U.S. and a few other countries are not far behind. Some of the main flowers grown in Kenya for worldwide distribution are roses, carnations, lilies, Alstromeria, cut foliage, and more. The people of Kenya are dependent upon the flower industry. The Kenyan Flower industry employs over 50,000 people directly and another estimated 50,000 people indirectly, taking into account transport, banking, packaging and other services. The flower industry keeps millions out of poverty.

How Eyjafjallajokull is Affecting the Flower Industry of Kenya

Kenya also supplies a great deal of produce to the world’s market, and it has taken a deep hit, along with the flower industry. The effect of the volcano was quite devastating very early on. With the grounding of planes, the Kenya flower industry lost upwards of $3 million per day. Just a few days after the volcano erupted, Kenya Flower Council executives estimated that $8 million in flowers had been ruined. With the produce included, the loss in just a few days was $12 million. Farmers had to dump products on their farms. Huge supplies of flowers already at the airport destined to be flown to the EU had to be destroyed. One company alone dumped eight tons of flowers and one hundred sixty tons of vegetables. A few days after the ash clouds developed, thousands of employees in Kenya’s floriculture business were told to stay home. After just a few days, the devastation to the flower industry was evident, as losses continue to mount.

Kenya Fights Back

As soon as flight bans were lifted, Kenyans tried to make up for the millions of dollars lost. But it may be too little too late. Thousands still remain laid off and the losses to Kenya’s flower industry, caused by Eyjafjallajokull, continue to mount.

Flower Industry Affected in Other Countries

Holland exports 10% of its flowers to the United States. The most popular spring flowers in wedding bouquets come from Holland. Orchids and all bulb flowers grown in Holland were unable to be shipped after the volcano erupted. This has been causing significant losses to the flower industry in Holland. Israel was unable to get the flowers it exports out either.

As flower growers around the world struggle to make up for losses caused to the flower industry by Eyjafjallajokull, the far-reaching effects of this devastation may not be known for some time. If planes are grounded again due to the ash, the losses to the flower industry worldwide will cause even more significant loss.