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Regulator projects year-end rebound for horticulture

The horticultural sector is expected to recover
The horticultural sector is expected to recover from the Covid-19 shocks at the end of the year. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The horticultural sector is expected to recover from the Covid-19 shocks at the end of the year, according to the regulator.

Head of Horticulture Directorate Benjamin Tito said the sector should go back to normalcy towards the end of the year, when production and market orders will stabilise.

Mr Tito said the pandemic hit had the vegetable sector as most of the seeds farmers rely on have to be imported from overseas and the logistics challenges brought about by coronavirus disrupted the supply chain.

"We expect that the sector will attain full recovery towards the end of the year," Mr he told the Business Daily in an interview.

Mr Tito said the flower sector, which contributes the bulk of foreign exchange earnings for Kenya, is slowly picking up after suffering one of its worst setbacks from March.

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A lot of flowers went to waste when the main auction in Amsterdam closed, leading to cancellation of orders.

"The auction in Amsterdam is slowly opening up, an indicator that by the end of the year things would have normalised," he said.

Most of the Kenyan flowers are sold through the auction in Holland with a few firms selling directly to customers.

The closure of the auction saw most of the companies in Kenya resort to direct sales to salvage whatever they had on the farms.

The volumes have remained low in the last three weeks but they are expected to rebound in the next two weeks, according to Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya chief executive Ojepat Okisegere.

The low volumes are a culmination of a number of factors, which impacted negatively on production. They include rains that resulted in pests and diseases and a lack of orders abroad that saw crops overgrow, hence need to prune them.

"We expect volumes to go back to normal in the next two weeks as the crops that had been damaged have recovered," said Mr Okisegere.

Flowers made the bulk of the earnings last year bringing in Sh104 billion with vegetables emerging second by raking in Sh25 billion followed by fruits at Sh13 billion.

The peak of the horticulture season in Kenya will start in September and run all the way to May when the country witnesses high demand for the produce in the world market.

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