KENYA – Kenya in July shipped out the highest volume of horticultural produce in more than two years, boosted by increased demand from export markets.

Latest data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows exports hit 65,172 tons in July, a 19.3 % jump from 54,604 tons in June.

It is the highest export volume of fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers since February 2021, when exporters sold 71,685 tons.

Fresh vegetables make up the largest volume of the exports at 28,259 tons followed by fresh fruits (27,339 tons) and cut flowers (9,574 tons).

Kenya currently exports over 65% of its cut flowers to the Netherlands while the rest are sold directly to wholesalers and retail outlets such as supermarkets and grocers.

The higher export volumes and a weaker shilling saw earnings from the produce jump 3.8 % to KES 12.5 billion (USD 84 million), the highest since March 2021 when exporters earned KES 13.5 billion (USD 90.7 million).

Horticulture is one of the leading export earners for Kenya and generated KES 152.3 billion (USD 1.02 billion) in earnings in 2022. Other major export earners include tea and coffee.

Avocados are the country’s largest export fruit followed by pineapples, mangoes, raspberries, passion fruits, and lemons. The main export vegetables include chillies, basil, peppermint, fine beans, mixed vegetables, snap peas, and herbs.

Kenyan farmers form the first ever avocado cooperative society

Meanwhile, farmers in Kakamega, Kenya, have formed a Cooperative Society, known as Mumbo Farmers’ Cooperative Society, that will mobilize farmers to produce enough avocados to be sold in the lucrative export markets in the European Union, India, Saudi Arabia, China, and America.

The cooperative society has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sisi Village Produce, a social enterprise in Malava that produces clean avocado planting materials, to help in marketing avocados from farmers.

Sisi Village Produce will also set up a Private Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Malava and an extraction plant.

The Private EPZ, according to Sisi Village Produce Ambassador Elijah Karungani, will be used to add value to Hass avocados received from farmers that fail to meet export standards by crashing them to extract oil to enable farmers to earn from every fruit they produce.

He said that once the EPZ is complete, Sisi Village Produce will also purchase other types of avocados from farmers, other than the Hass Avocado, instead of the fruits rotting away in farms, encouraging farmers to plant the fruits even if it’s on a small plot of land.

“We are encouraging our farmers to plant avocados, particularly the Hass varieties, which have a wide market all over the world, and the oil from the Hass avocados is needed in the world for use in the pharmaceutical industries and even in culinary areas,” disclosed Maxwell Shamala, the chairman of Mumbo Cooperative Society.