KENYA – Kenya’s horticulture export earnings in 2021, hit a historic high at Ksh158 billion (US$1.39 billion), growing by 7% from Ksh150 billion (US$1.32 billion) that it recorded a year earlier and a jump from Ksh 144 billion (US$1.27 billion) registered in 2019.

The good results were boosted by high demand of the Kenyan produce in the world market as export destinations continue to relax Covid-19 restrictions.

It is important to note that the growth was propelled by rising volumes despite average export prices achieved being low compared to those in 2020.

Vegetable export volumes in kilos increased to 78 million last year from 62 million the year before, lifting earnings to Ksh28 billion (US$246m) from Ksh24 billion (US$211m), reports Business Daily.

Meanwhile, the volume of flower exports in kilos increased to 210 million from 146 million while the earnings increased to Ksh110 billion (US$967m) from Ksh107 billion (US$941m).

Despite, the volume of fruits exported increasing to 117 million from 105 million, earnings from the commodities declined marginally to Ksh18.3 billion (US$160.95m) from Ksh18.4 billion (US$161.8m).

The leading contributors to fruits exports were avocado, pineapple and mangoes, sold mainly to The Netherlands, France, The United Kingdom, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The European Union still accounts for the largest portion of Kenyan horticultural exports, taking in 45 percent of the exports majorly comprising cut flowers, French beans, snow peas and Asian vegetables.

Agriculture and Food Authority -the crops regulator is working at diversifying the market as it seeks to cut reliance on European market which it says could have a negative impact on Kenya’s produce in the event that market becomes volatile.

UAE positions itself as lucrative market

Providing an alternative lucrative market, the Emirati company Armela Farms, which specializes in the production and distribution of fresh produce, has announced a doubling of its supplies of fruits and vegetables from Kenya.

According to reports by Business Daily, the company intends to increase the volume of its purchases of horticultural products to 5 tons per week against 2.5 tons currently.

This will allow the company to add spinach, avocados and strawberries, among others, to its range of items currently offered in retail chains and restaurants in Dubai.

“We want to increase our purchases, but the producers who want to engage with us, will have to be able to meet the strict quality requirements in force in our country.

“As we supply supermarkets, we need trusted partners who can ensure product consistency,” said Rachana Shah, Managing Director of Armela Farms.

The United Arab Emirates represent a real commercial opportunity for the Kenyan horticultural industry.

The second economy in the Arab world depends up to 90% on international purchases for the satisfaction of its food needs.

Subject to alignment with the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards of the Middle East country and a good export logistics chain, Kenya could position itself sustainably in this market, especially since it is already one of the main African suppliers of fresh produce.

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