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How the Iceland volcano ash cloud is crippling Kenya's flower industry

Kenya's flower and vegetable industry, which employs tens of thousands of workers and contributes over a fifth of the country’s GDP, is losing $3 million per day because ash from the Iceland volcano has grounded freight flights.

A plume of ash from the Iceland volcano covers the farm of Pall Eggert Olafsson, in Thorvaldseyri, Iceland, Monday.

Brynjar Gauti/AP

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Clouds of ash from the Iceland volcano are forcing thousands of workers at farms near the Equator to down tools and robbing Kenya’s flower and vegetable industry of $3 million per day.

The East African country freights 1,000 metric tons of roses, carnations, French beans, snap peas, and other produce daily on overnight flights to Europe. About 1/3 of the cut flowers sold in the European Union are grown in Kenya.

But the Kenyan, British, and Dutch airlines that fly from Nairobi have been grounded since Thursday, following flight bans due to risks to aircraft from volcanic ash spewing from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

IN PICTURES: Iceland volcano

Already $12 million worth of flowers and vegetables destined for European supermarkets have had to be destroyed or given away.

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