Exports from fresh produce earned Kenya USD 1.53 Bn in 2018, a notable 33 percent increase from that of the previous year.
Flowers remained the chief export earner in Kenya. In 2018, it was the bulk of earning, bringing in USD 1.13 Bn which is 75 percent of the earnings from fresh produce. Vegetables earned the country USD 269.30 Mn which is 18 percent of the total sales while fruits were the third export earner with USD 119.69 Mn translating to 12 percent.
This is according to a recent report released by Kenya Flower Council (KFC), Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) and Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC).
Even though the sub-sector faced a myriad of challenges in 2018, it recorded a significant increase.
“The sector has seen marked resilience and continued growth and huge potential which has enabled it weather various challenges such as the Brexit shock and fertiliser shortages which the sector faced,” said Mr. Hosea Machuki Chief Executive Officer, FPEAK
The horticulture industry was confronted with a number of challenges one of them being an acute shortage of soluble fertiliser resulting from stringent and lengthy clearance process by the Kenya Bureau of Standard.
Other significant challenges faced by the sub-sector was the imposition of 16% VAT on pest control products and VAT return estimated to be Sh3.5bn as well as an increase in cost production.
“These challenges have compounded the many challenges Kenyan farmers face including numerous taxes, and levies at national and county governments, high energy costs, trade and phytosanitary restrictions in several potential markets, and the recent notice on closure of runway during the valentine peak season,” said Clement Tulezi, Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Flower Council.
The Principal Secretary, Ministry of Trade, Dr. Chris Kiptoo, however, noted that the Government is working towards expanding the export market for the horticultural products besides the primary European markets.
Kiptoo remained optimistic that farmers will soon be able to export their products to China revealing that a delegation was dispatched to evaluate the Chinese market. He also mentioned that the government is in talks with the United Kingdom about Brexit to try and ensure the sector doesn’t suffer losses regardless of the outcome of the process.
The sub-sector directly employs over 350,000 Kenyans, 1 Mn indirectly and supports the livelihoods of over 3 Mn people. The horticultural industry being one of the top three foreign exchange earners of the country contributes immensely to the growth of the country’s GDP.
The annual report has been released at a time when the Kenya Human Rights Commission, as well as social media users, are advocating for better pay for Horticultural workers after a report emerged that employees working with horticulture sector wallow in perpetual poverty as a result of poor pay. This is despite the fact that the sub-sector makes enormous profits.
Featured Image Courtesy: The Nerve Africa