Earnings from horticulture exports hit a historic high last year at Sh158 billion to remain the leading foreign exchanger earner in the last two years by staying ahead of tea and tourism.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that earnings from fresh produce grew seven percent from Sh150 billion that it recorded a year earlier.
Whereas tea and tourism were impacted negatively since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, horticulture has been recording impressive earnings in the last two years. Tourism recorded Sh146 billion last year with tea earning the country Sh136 billion.
“The good results were boosted by high demand of the Kenyan produce in the world market last year,” said the Directorate of Horticulture in an interview with the Business Daily on Monday.
The horticulture sector has 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.
The demand for fruits and vegetables, which forms a key part of dietary needs for many families in the overseas market has been in high demand since 2020, helping to boost the earnings.
Vegetable export volumes in kilos increased to 78 million last year from 62 million the year before, lifting earnings to Sh28 billion from Sh24 billion.
The volume of fruits exported in kilos increased to 117 million from 105 million but the earnings from the commodities declined marginally to Sh18.3 billion from Sh18.4 billion.
The volume of flower exports in kilos increased to 210 million from 146 million while the earnings increased to Sh110 billion from Sh107 billion.
The European Union still accounts for the largest portion of Kenyan horticultural exports, taking in 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, 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 European market which it says could have a negative impact on Kenya’s produce in the event that market becomes volatile.