NAIVASHA, Kenya, Oct. 16, Xinhua - Kenya's flower growers in Naivasha, about 90 km southwest of Nairobi on Thursday welcomed the move by East African states to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU.
The growers termed the move as a step in the right direction, noting that the signing will herald a new beginning for exporters of fresh produce to the European market.
According to a leading flower grower Jack Kneppers, the move will see thousands of jobs that were at risk retained while farmers will now have confident in increasing their products.
"We welcome the move that has given as a boost to continue exporting our products to Europe without much taxation," said Kneppers, the Managing Director of Maridadi Flower Farm in the lakeside town.
He told journalists in Naivasha that most farmers were thinking of relocating to other countries had the government delayed the signing of the agreement.
The grower who operates on 100 acre piece of land, however, called on the government to help subsidize the cost of some inputs, adding that growers were likely to incur huge losses for the next three months after which the agreement takes effect.
"For us to retain the huge work force we have, we need to work with the government to see ways in which we can reduce some of the costs we pay while buying fertilizer and other materials," he said.
General Manager of Vandenberg Rroses, George Onyango, said the move would see products exported to the European market increase. He said most growers were optimistic of good times ahead once the agreement comes to effect.
"We now have confidence as investors with the government and I urge all those involved in this trade to increase their products significantly to the foreign market," he said.
Kenyan government and the EU signed on Tuesday the EPA agreement after a two-day deliberation in Brussels, Belgium.
Exporters eyeing the European market were expected to face a tax bill of up to 1.12 million U.S. dollars per week if a new trade agreement was not signed.
The deal will enable the country to save up to 150,000 jobs that would have been lost. However, the earliest that the EPA agreement can be implemented is January 2015.