News / Africa

Kenya Losing Millions as Volcano Grounds Flights

Workers push cart loaded with discarded fresh roses at a flower exporter's farm in Naivasha, 19 Apr 2010
Workers push cart loaded with discarded fresh roses at a flower exporter's farm in Naivasha, 19 Apr 2010
Michael Onyiego

As an erupting volcano in southeastern Iceland sprays a cloud of ash over much of northern Europe, its economic impact is being felt as far south as Kenya.

As airplanes sit idle in Nairobi, Kenya's farmers are scrambling to save the thousands of tons of produce in danger of perishing if they do not reach their destination shortly.

The volcanic ash cloud that has stranded millions of passengers in airports across the world, is also stranding the Kenyan produce bound for European markets.

Europe is the most important destination for Kenyan exports.  Around 1,000 tons of Kenyan produce and flowers are sent to Europe daily, and the continent accounts for nearly 82 percent of the industries' total exports, but without airplanes to ship the cargo, the perishable goods simply cannot reach the markets.

From last Thursday to Sunday, not one plane left Kenya for Europe, leaving cold storage facilities at Nairobi's international airport full and forcing many local farmers to begin throwing away their crops.  The farmers are losing an estimated $3 million per day, and many have had to lay off employees in anticipation of further losses.

Despite the flight ban, which remains over much of northern Europe, Kenyan exporters are now finding ways to get their products to the market.  According to the Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya, Stephen Mbithi, a single cargo plane carrying 100 tons of Kenyan produce flew from Nairobi to southern Spain, which has not been affected by the ash.

The airplane only carried about 10 percent of Kenya's daily crop, but more shipments are expected, and growers hope to export at regular levels by the end of the week.  But even if Kenya returns to normal export levels, shipping overland from southern Spain will mean a 60 percent drop in profits.  

And according to Mbithi, the reopening of export to Europe could lead to a drop in price due to the backlog.

"Even if all the flights come back, say tomorrow, and then we fly everything in that means we will suddenly oversupply, because we will be trying to supply three, four days of harvest," he said.  "We think that it is possible that you are looking at about a 15 percent, 20 percent drop in price if that was to happen.  We basically are telling everybody: we might as well write off the fact that we have lost $12 million in the last four days," said Mbithi.

Kenya's new route into Europe promises to alleviate some of the losses experienced by the country, but it is uncertain how long it will last.

There is no way of knowing if or when the volcano will stop erupting, and southern Spain could find itself under the same restrictions as its northern neighbors.

The eruption of Iceland's volcano has affected more than just produce.  Kenya's main airline, Kenya Airways, has reported losses of almost $4 million since Thursday, and the eruption has reportedly cost the airline industry worldwide nearly $200 million daily.

European flight operators are pressing air safety authorities to ease the ban.  Many airlines have conducted test flights to demonstrate the ability of their aircraft to function, despite the cloud of ash.  But the airspace over many of Europe's transportation hubs, including France, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, remains closed.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid