Agency calls for more investment in fruit farming
Posted Tuesday, June 26 2012 at 20:18
Kenya stands to earn more from horticulture once more small-holder growers take farming as a commercial venture, a top official has said.
Horticultural Crops Development Authority managing director Alfred Serem said Kenya earned Sh91 billion from the export of fresh produce last year.
However, demand for the produce in global markets was yet to be met.
“The local market for horticultural products is about Sh300 billion but farmers have not been exposed to the opportunities as well as those in European countries,” said Dr Serem during a field day at Namgoi trading centre in Kapsabet,Nandi County.
He urged farmers to invest more in the growing of passion fruits, vegetables, French beans, avocados, baby corn and groundnuts to exploit the demand.
Earnings from the produce this year would be depressed by frost which attacked farmlands early this year, just as the sector was recovering from last year’s drought.
French beans in the Mount Kenya region and Naivasha were the most affected. Consistent long rains, however, have seen a resurgence in the sector.
“Farmers should grow those crops that mature quickly. They are in high demand and returns to farmers are handsome when managed well,” said Dr Serem
He said prices of French beans increased from Sh40 per kilogramme to Sh250 per kilogramme when frost reduced output, earning farmers who grow the crops in green houses a windfall.
HCDA is training farmers on opportunities in local and foreign markets in a bid to increase farm incomes and create jobs.
He said vast fertile pieces of land could be put to good use through leasing and irrigation supported by affordable credit.
He said that the large undeveloped land in Rift Valley and western Kenya, for instance, could be developed using loans from commercial banks and the Agricultural Finance Corporation.
Dominic Biwott, an export promotion manager at Canken International, said farmers in counties in western Kenya and North Rift regions should use the Eldoret International Airport by growing crops for export.