Horticulture earnings drop Sh7bn in Jan


Greenhouses at a large scale horticulture farm in Nyeri on March 18, 2019. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Horticulture earnings dropped by Sh7.1 billion in January this year as the volume of produce exported also declined.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates the export value of the produce declined to Sh8.1 billion in the month under review from Sh15.2 billion a year earlier.

All segments of horticulture exports –flowers, vegetables, and fruits recorded a decline both in value and volumes.

Earnings from the vegetable declined 74 percent to Sh867 million, followed by flowers which saw their value dip 39 percent to Sh6.4 billion while fruits were down by 26 percent to Sh762 million.

Flowers normally make the largest share of the total horticulture export earnings as they are high-value crops.

The demand that was witnessed for vegetables and fruits in 2020 and last year seems to have waned.

These two produce were in high demand in Europe because of their dietary need, especially at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The horticulture sector had been enjoying good earnings during the Covid-19 period. For instance, in 2019, income from the export of fresh produce declined to Sh144 but picked up during the first year of the coronavirus outbreak to Sh150 billion.

Earnings from horticulture exports hit a historic high last year at Sh158 billion to remain the leading foreign exchange earner in the last two years by staying ahead of tea and tourism.

The good results were boosted by the high demand for Kenyan produce in the world market last year, according to the Directorate of Horticulture.

The European Union still takes the largest portion of Kenyan horticultural exports, buying 45 percent of the commodities mainly comprising cut flowers, French beans, snow peas, and Asian vegetables.

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

Agriculture and Food Authority -the crops regulator is working at diversifying the market as it seeks to cut reliance on the European market which it says could have a negative impact on Kenya’s produce in the event that the market becomes volatile.

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