Govt engages horticulture players to boost exports

Govt engages horticulture players to boost exports
FILE - Workers pack roses for Valentine’s Day, at the AAA Growers’ farm in Nyahururu, four hours’ drive north of the capital Nairobi, in Kenya, Feb. 1, 2016.

Players in Kenya’s horticultural sector are seeking out incentives from government ahead of the fresh budgetary allocation for the 2018-2019 financial year in an effort aimed at driving even more growth for an already thriving industry.

The sector kept up an improved performance in 2017 to gross revenues totaling to Sh82 billion which places the sector only second to tea in agricultural exporting earnings for government.

To keep up the impressive performance in 2018, industry players have identified the need for impetus including incentives on taxation, farming implements and supportive infrastructure.

Speaking during the opening of the 2018 International Flower Trade Expo (IFTEX), Kenya Flower Council (KFC) chief executive officer Clement Tulezi said the provision of tax reliefs and government support would maintain the growth curve in the sector.

“Taxation has been an area pushing us back. The proposed changes will for example eat into our profits rendering our products uncompetitive in the international market. We also want investments into reliable energy sources and general infrastructure,” Mr Tulezi said.

Government is on the other hand seeking to expand the industry’s access to the international market in a bid to capitalize on the position of Kenya’s horticulture and fresh produce sector in the globe.

The country’s reputation as a consistent producer of cut flowers, fruits and vegetables for the export markets has remained on a pedestal with the flower section for instance being only second to the Netherlands in revenue earnings.

Stakeholders in the industry however identify the need to further build on this position by seeking new markets for the sector.

International Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said the government is looking to further broaden the horticultural base by reaching out to more markets.

“We are looking to broaden the export base by bringing in more products for export. Of the Sh600 billion goods we exported, seventy percent went only to thirteen markets. We want to take advantage of the markets that we have while reaching out to more markets,” Mr Kiptoo said.

The European Union (EU) has remained as the principal destination for the country’s horticultural produce with the market taking in 20 percent of the all exports from the country.

However, with the market witnessing a number of shake-ups in recent years including Brexit, the government has been keen to source for new markets to mitigate potential losses that may accrue from the changes.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) remains as a viable outlet for Kenyan exports to the United States market even as the government continues to explore fresh markets.

Horticultural industry stakeholders are in the meantime pursuing opportunities presented by the expected direct flights to the US to further build on their hold of the American market.

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