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Kenya's horticultural exports up 12.8%

Kenya’s earnings from horticulture exports rose 12.8 per cent for the second year to register a Sh13 billion more earnings value to Sh115.32 billion from fruits, cut flowers and vegetables. The sector earned a record Sh101.51 billion in 2016, another 12 per cent rise from 2015. According to latest government data, cut flowers made a 16 per cent increase in value last year to Sh82.24 billion from Sh70.82 billion in 2016. The sector contributed 1.44 per cent of the country’s GDP.

At the same time, quantity of cut flowers went up from 133.65 metric tonnes exported in 2016 to 159.96 metric tonnes last year, according to the data.

Fruit exports made a 23 per cent growth in value from Sh7.31 billion in 2016 to Sh9 billion last year, shipping 59.94 metric tonnes compared to 48.65 tonnes the year before.

Vegetables registered the smallest marginal increase of two per cent in value of exports to Sh24 billion, up from Sh23.3 billion in 2016.

Horticulture is a major foreign exchange earner alongside tea, remittances from Kenyans living abroad and tourism. Areas around Lake Naivasha and Bahati in Nakuru County, Limuru and Thika in Kiambu County are known for large scale farming of flowers, vegetables and fruits for export, mainly to the EU markets.
Since 2012, the industry has faced challenges in the EU market as pesticide residues, and quarantined pests have cost billions in losses.

In 2014 the EU gave Kenya an ultimatum to ensure all produce meant for the market should not contain more than 2 per cent of chemicals or herbicide sprayed on the crop or lose the Sh100 billion market.

Last year, industry stakeholders launched the KS1758 Part Two standard for fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to enable the horticulture sector articulate specific sector concerns jointly.

The two standards bring all exporters and handlers under a standard practice and will be the basis on which export permits are issued in the coming years. This will eliminate the possibility of any rogue practice and lack of proper documentation that has in the past led to expensive interceptions at the market entry in the EU.

Source: The Star, Kenya


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