KENYA – Kenya’s horticulture export earnings in the first half of the year declined by 40 per cent to Ksh48.4 billion (US$405m) from Ksh80.7 billion (US$675.5m) on the back of reduced returns from all categorise.

Earnings from fruits dropped from Ksh12 billion (US$100m) last year to Ksh5.6 billion (US$46.8m) in the half period under review, while vegetables raked in Kshh5.4 billion (US$45.2m) from Ksh15.5 billion (US$129.75m) previously. Returns from flowers fell from Ksh53.2 billion last year to Ksh37.3 billion (US$445.3m).

According to the Horticulture Directorate, the value of export produce was majorly pulled down by a decline in volume and lower quality avocado in the first quarter of the year as the exported products were not mature enough. This led to low value realised and more rejections of the produce in the world market.

To curb the menace of harvest of immature avocados, fresh food producer and exporter Kakuzi Plc piloted an e-learning agricultural extension service to boost quality avocado production by smallholder farmers.

Data from the directorate reveal that volume of fruits dropped from 82.1 million kilogrammes to 44 million kilos in the review period.

The directorate had projected that the export earnings for horticulture would pick from April onwards after the ban on harvesting of avocado was lifted in March. However, that is yet to reflect in the latest figures.

The leading export destinations for all the Kenyan horticultural produce are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, the Middle East and the Far East.

Agriculture and Food Authority, the crops regulator said it is working at diversifying the market as it seeks to cut reliance on the European market which it says could hurt Kenya’s produce if the market becomes volatile.

The government has set up strategies to actualize the plan as it recently undertook the inaugural export of fresh avocado to China following bilateral trade agreement signed between the two countries in early January.

The Asian market is bullish as in 2018, China imported the largest number of avocados, reaching 43.86 kilotons, with an import value of US$ 133.38 million.

Further to that, leading fresh produce exporters have turned to other produces to boost income.

Listed agri-business firm, Kakuzi PLC, recently entered into a partnership with Driscoll’s, world’s leading marketer of berries, to grow the local and export volumes of blueberries.

Driscoll’s is the global market leader in fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The company serves consumers year-round with its products across North America, Australia, Europe and China in over twenty-two countries.

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