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Commodities

Horticulture earnings hit Sh81bn in first half

Fruits registered remarkable growth on income with its value nearly doubling from Sh7 billion previously to Sh12 billion in the review period.
Fruits registered remarkable growth on income with its value nearly doubling from Sh7 billion previously to Sh12 billion in the review period. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Earnings from horticulture in the first half of the year rose to Sh81 billion against Sh76 billion in the same period in 2019, despite trade interruption witnessed in the second quarter caused by Covid-19.

The earnings were boosted by higher demand of fruits and vegetables as Europe—Kenya’s major market for fresh produce—opened up its economy after weeks of lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Fruits registered remarkable growth on income with its value nearly doubling from Sh7 billion previously to Sh12 billion in the review period.

“Our produce has been in high demand and the price has been good, helping to lift up the earnings in the last six months,” said Benjamin Tito, head of Horticulture Directorate.

High income from fruits was boosted by high volumes of avocado following the ongoing harvest of the produce in the country.

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Flowers, which normally account for the largest portion of the income from horticulture exports, raked in Sh56 billion, a two percent increase from the previous period.

Flower export has been highly impacted by Covid-19, which saw orders that had been earlier made by overseas buyers cancelled as the auction in Amsterdam closed, leaving growers with an option of direct sales.

However, the auction has so far opened and stakeholders in the flower sector are hoping for a good season ahead of the peak season in September.

Mr Tito said higher earnings were occasioned by enhanced demand and good prices that Kenya’s produce fetched in the world market.

The impressive performance was registered against a backdrop of a decline in volumes, which was 19 million tonnes short of the previous season.

Industry data from the directorate indicates that the volumes dropped to 160 million kilogrammes in the review period from 181 million in the corresponding period in 2019.

Fruits and vegetables have been in high demand in the European market because of the dietary needs to boost body immunity in the wake of Covid-19.

It is not all rosy though, as the second wave of infection in Europe, which accounts for over 60 percent of Kenya's produce, has seen some of the countries impose another round of lockdowns.

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