Horticulture export earnings rose by a third to hit Sh104 billion in the first eight months of 2018 compared to Sh78.2 billion earned during a similar period last year.
Much of the growth was led by a rise in flower exports, whose earnings are forecast to grow further after Kenya Airways late last month began direct flights to New York.
Latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that flower exports brought in Sh76.9 billion from sales of 105.3 million metric tonnes in the period, a 38 percent rise from the Sh55.6 billion earned up to August 2017.
Vegetables earnings rose by 9.6 percent to Sh16.9 billion, from 50,000 tonnes sold in the period. In a similar period last year, vegetable exporters earned Sh8.7 billion from 57,000 tonnes sold.
The country also earned Sh10.1 billion from 61,500 tonnes of fruit exports, with this category recording the highest rate of growth at 41 percent compared to the Sh7.2 billion earned in the eight months to August 2017.
The exports have been boosted by the improved rains this year, after they were affected negatively in 2017 by drought and reduced economic activity due to political tension.
Kenya Flower Council chief executive Clement Tulezi said they project even better numbers going forward, especially due to the opening up on new markets in the Americas, although he warned of risks due to higher input costs.
“Direct flights from Nairobi to New York portend good tidings for the flower sector that has several firms signing trade deals with US-based retail chains,” said Mr Tulezi.
“While past sales are good, we do risk losing our competitive edge due to fertiliser delays at the port of Mombasa, as well as costs incurred for clearance and re-inspection that farmers will have to pass on to retail buyers.”
Kenya is the third largest flower exporter globally, with a 25 per cent share of the European Union market ahead of Israel and Colombia at 16 percent each.