Horticulture exports rise to 29-month high on demand


Avocado fruits packaged for export. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Kenya in July shipped out the highest volume of horticultural produce in more than two years, boosted by increased demand from export markets.

Latest data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows exports hit 65,172 tonnes in July, a 19.3 percent jump from 54,604 tonnes in June.

It is the highest export volume of fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers since February 2021, when exporters sold 71,685 tonnes.

Fresh vegetables make the largest volume of the exports at 28,259 tonnes followed by fresh fruits (27,339 tonnes) and cut flowers (9,574 tonnes).

Avocados are the country’s largest export fruit followed by pineapples, mangoes, raspberries, passion fruits, and lemons. The main export vegetables include chillies, basil, peppermint, fine beans, mixed vegetables, snap peas, and herbs.

Kenya meanwhile exports over 65 percent of its cut flowers to the Netherlands while the rest are sold directly to wholesalers and retail outlets such as supermarkets and grocers.

The higher export volumes and a weaker shilling saw earnings from the produce jump 3.8 percent to Sh12.5 billion, the highest since March 2021 when exporters earned Sh13.5 billion.

Horticulture is one of the leading export earners for Kenya and generated Sh152.3 billion in earnings in 2022. Other major export earners include tea and coffee.

Exports are the country’s second largest source of foreign currency after diaspora remittances which is crucial at a time when the country is running low on forex, especially US dollars.

Increased demand for fresh produce especially in Europe is poised to make horticultural sector earnings rebound from a drop last year.

The value of horticulture exports decreased from Sh157.7 billion in 2021 to Sh146.1 billion in 2022, according to the Economic Survey 2023 released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

“This is explained by low demand for cut flowers and vegetables in the international market during the year under review,” said KNBS.

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