Kenya's Quiet Casualty: Flowers

Violence threatens nation's 3rd-largest industry
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2008 6:25 AM CST
A Kenyan flower farmer tends his crop.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The violence in Kenya has come at the worst possible time for an industry quietly flourishing in the warmth of the nation's long, sunny days—flowers. Kenya supplies 25% of Europe's cut flowers, making it the third-largest industry behind tourism and tea, the Economist reports. Roses are the main crop, and with Valentine's Day around the corner, growers are struggling to keep workers safe and shipments moving.

One trade union says 3,000 of the 30,000 flower workers near Lake Naivasha in the northwest have abandoned their jobs amid the unrest. Generally, larger farms are safe because workers live on site, but the story's different on the many smaller farms in the region. Growers, meanwhile, are setting up temporary camps to provide better protection.