Icelandic Volcano Hurts Kenyan Flower Growers : Planet Money Kenya's biggest industry has been hammered by the air-traffic slowdown. But economists say the broader economic impact of the slowdown is likely to be relatively mild.
NPR logo Icelandic Volcano Hurts Kenyan Flower Growers

Icelandic Volcano Hurts Kenyan Flower Growers

Europe's volcano-related flight restrictions will start to ease up tomorrow. Airlines and tour operators have (obviously) been hammered by the radical slowdown in air traffic.

The broader effects should be relatively mild, economists say, provided the slowdown doesn't go on for too long. That's largely due to the fact that almost all exports and imports travel by boat, rail or truck, rather than by air.

But some producers of time-sensitive goods have been hit hard. Take Kenya's horticulture business, which consists largely of selling fresh-cut flowers to European buyers. It's the country's biggest industry, accounting for 20% of exports, and it's been slammed.

More than 3,000 tons of flowers have already been thrown away because of the slowdown, the BBC reports. Exporters of flowers, fruits and vegetables are losing some $3 million per day.

"There is no diversionary market," the head of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya told the New York Times. "Flowers and courgettes are not something the average Kenyan buys."