KENYA – Kenya’s horticulture export earnings in the 11 months to November 2021, grew by 6.4% translating to Ksh 8.7 billion (US$77m), attributed to higher demand for Kenyan produce in the world market as export destinations continue to relax Covid-19 restrictions.

According to the Horticultural Crops Directorate, Kenya earned Ksh145.4 billion (US$1.29 billion) during the period under review from Ksh136.7 billion (US$1.2 billion) of the previous year.

The growth was propelled by rising volumes despite average export prices achieved being low compared to those in 2020.

Higher demand for Kenyan vegetables and flowers pushed up the volumes by 30 percent.

Cut flowers shipped to the lucrative European market amounted to373.78 million (US$3.3m) kilos fetching Ksh101 billion (US$894m).

This was followed by vegetables at Ksh23.7 billion (US$209m) from 65.13 million kilos, with the United Kingdom, Holland and France remaining the leading export destinations.

Meanwhile, fruit exports increased to 110.5 million kilos from 99.5 million kilos in 2020 representing an 11 per cent rise.

However, the value dropped from Ksh17.75 billion (US$157m) to Ksh17.57 billion (US$155m) in 2021, representing a 1 per cent marginal decline.

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 has indicated there is a need for Kenya to diversify its market as reliance on the European market could have negative effect on the country in the event of a volatile market.

UAE positions itself as lucrative market

As 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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