The value of Kenya’s vegetable exports grew by 17 per cent in the first 10 months of last year compared with the same period in 2015 due to improved market access in the European Union.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that vegetable sales stood at Sh19.6 billion up from Sh16.7 billion the previous year.
The good performance resulted from improved market access after the country met most of the stringent measures set by EU, which had affected horticultural produce sales.
The export volume rose from 40,000 tonnes in 2015 to 55,000 tonnes between January and October last year.
“In 2015 stringent market access restrictions were set by European countries which affected the volume of produce exported,” said Jane Ngige, chief executive of the Kenya Flower Council (KFC).
Ms Ngige said the association, together with the government, had addressed the bottlenecks affecting sales and now vegetables destined for export meet the required standards.
In 2014 and 2015 Europe raised concern over high levels of residues in Kenya’s horticultural produce.
The EU came up with a list of commodities, based on the risk they pose to humans and the environment, to be subjected to strict official controls at the economic bloc’s points of entry.
According to data from the European Food Safety Commission, 45 consignments of contaminated fresh produce from Kenya were rejected in the four months to April 2014.
This was up from 41 consignments in the same period the previous year.
Vegetables, cut flowers, peas and beans constitute an important part of Kenya’s horticultural exports to the EU.
The sector is one of the fastest growing and contributes heavily to the country’s foreign exchange earnings. According to KFC Kenya’s European export market is key but diversification is ongoing.
“Our markets have grown over the years even though Europe remains our major destination, we have established over 60 other markets worldwide,” she said.