The value of horticulture production in Kenya increased by 41 percent as overall sales rose to Sh305 billion ($3.05 billion) in 2017 up from Sh 216 billion ($2.16 billion) recorded in 2016. The total value of horticultural produce exported in 2017 also rose from Sh101.5 billion in 2016 to Sh115 billion in 2017. This was made known in a market data from the Horticulture Department.
“The value of domestic horticulture production has been growing over the years as it is evidenced by the figures,” the chief executive officer of Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) of Kenya Okesegere Ojepat told Kenyan news platform Daily Nation.
Daily Nation, however, reported that the increase in Agriculture was due to compliance with the export market requirements by a majority of the exporters such as the European market which is their major market.
Ojepat further said the fresh produce sector was resilient to economic storms—witnessed in 2017 as a result of the prolonged election—to register good performance.
Cut-flower export still remains the largest earner, contributing over 70 percent of the annual earnings of total fresh produce in the country. With an export volume of 159,961, the export of flower contributed Sh82.24 billion in 2017 which is an 11 percent increase from Sh70.83 billion earned in 2016, representing 11.6 percent growth, on export volume of 159,961 tonnes.
During the period under review, fruits and vegetables earned Sh9 billion and Sh24 billion on export volumes of 56,945 tonnes and 87,240 tonnes respectively.
Kenya exports the bulk of its flowers to the European Union (EU), but it also has an increase in demand from other countries such as the US and Australia.
In 2017, Exporters faced uncertainty as the EU moved to block their access to its market over the failure by East African states to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). However, Kenya was later reinstated to the list of duty and quota-free exporters after it teamed up with Rwanda to sign the EPA. The reinstatement of Kenya to the duty-free list also boosted business confidence in the country as a number of importers accepted to sign long-term flower orders.
The country witnesses an increase in the sale of flowers during the Valentine period as it gets orders from a lot of customers. The sale from horticulture also helps increase the country’s foreign earning which in turn boosts its economic growth and value of the currency.
What you should know about Kenya’s horticulture
Horticulture is the fastest growing sub-sector in Kenya, with an annual growth rate of 7 percent. In terms of foreign exchange earning, the sub-sector is ranked third after tourism and tea.
The major areas where Kenya horticulture is practiced include around Lake Naivasha where companies such as Oserian handle flower plantations and the main flowers exported are roses and orchids. The Demand for Kenyan Flowers is always highest during the Valentine period.
In 2017, it saw about 23 percent increase in cut flower sales and the main European market for Kenya’s horticultural products include the Netherlands, Britain, Belgium, Australia, and France.