Kenya horticulture exports shoot up by 33pc

Kenya horticulture exports shoot up by 33pc

The domestic horticulture sector earned Kenya Ksh.153billion last year emerging the country’s second highest forex earner behind tourism, latest industry performance data shows.

This represents a 33 percent increase against earnings in the previous year of Ksh.115billion.

The impressive growth also saw the sector overtake tea which posted Ksh.140.9billion as Kenya’s third income earner.

Flowers had the lion’s share of the horticulture earnings, bringing in Ksh.113 billion of the total industry revenue in 2018, followed by vegetables at Ksh.27billion and fruits coming third at Ksh.12billion.

The sub sectors grew by 74percent, 18percent and eight per cent respectively.

The Netherlands, UK, France, UAE remains the leading marketplace for Kenyan export, accounting for more than two thirds of all exports.

Efforts are underway to intensify marketing of the produce in the United States, the world’s largest market.

The direct flight to the US, stakeholders say, will see expansion on other products such as vegetables, baby carrots, baby corn, French beans and snap peas, which have already undergone analysis and have been cleared for entry into the world’s biggest market.

Stakeholders have attributed enhanced earnings to high standards of Kenya flowers, which has seen the demand, go up in the world market.

“The quality of our flowers has gone up and improved standards have seen buyers jostle for our produce, hence improving the earnings,” says Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Kenya Horticulture Council.

He also pointed out that most flower firms in the country have diversified from roses to other varieties such as summer and outdoor flowers.

He said that Kenya Flower Council (KFC) standards was benchmarked with other international standards in 2017 and it emerged as one of the most robust in the world, creating more confidence in the local exports.

The sector recorded good performance in 2018 despite challenges arising from fertiliser shortages, the chronic issue of VAT refunds as well as 16% VAT on pesticides over the year .

Kenya’s hybrid and spray roses do not compete with the large, long-stem roses from Ecuador and Columbia and this will give Kenya an edge in the US market.

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Story By Zeddy Sambu
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