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Kenya seeks new markets for its horticulture produce in new drive  

Horticulture is the third largest foreign exchange earner and has undergone a transformation over the last 50 years garnering around 150 billion annually and contributes significantly to the Kenyan economy.

By Steve UMIDHA

Horticulture exporters are seeking new markets in China, India and the Middle East as the sector aims to reduce its reliance on the European market to raise earnings.

Through the Fresh Produce of Consortium of Kenya (FPC Kenya) and USAID through RTI’s Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS), the sector has developed a new digital marketing strategy to boost the visibility of Kenyan Avocados and Bananas in the local and international market.

The association announced Monday that it was in talks with Kenyan Foreign Missions and Embassies in Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Korea, UAE, India, and China in a bid to triple Kenyan exports to those markets in the next four years.

According to Okisegere Ojepat, the Chief executive of Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya the move will offer a better chance for the country to connect with the global market, improve information dissemination, change consumer attitudes and improve access to Kenyan avocado and bananas by the global marketplace.

“Dynamic and uniquely new demands set by our existing and new markets present new challenges and opportunities in equal measure to Kenyan farmers and exporters, we need to adopt the use of new technologies for harvesting and post-harvest handling and fulfillment to ensure that we retain and satisfy our local and international consumers,” said Ojepat during the campaign’s launch on Monday.

Horticulture is ranked one of the leading foreign exchange earners in the country, earning over Sh153 Billion in 2021.

Fruits accounted for over Sh 17 billion while avocado and banana earned the country an estimated Sh14.4 billion and Sh 3.6 million in export earnings last year which saw Kenya ranks 6th and 112th in the world for exports of avocado and banana respectively.

Kenya is however, yet to exploit its full potential in the two fruits with the country only exporting about 10 percent of the avocado it produces and less bananas.

“It is evident that avocado and banana value chains have with no doubt become very important economic fruit crops that need to be prioritized and given production, marketing and promotion attention they deserve backed with budgetary support by all stakeholders both in Government and private sector,” noted Ojepat.

Earnings from horticulture exports hit a historic high last year at Sh 158 Billion to remain the leading foreign exchange earner ahead of tea and tourism– the country’s other largest foreign exchange earners.

Tropical fruits exported from Kenya include pineapples, mangoes, and avocados and had an export volume of 3,846 tons in 1980, earning K£ 1.08 million. The main off-season vegetables exported to those countries are French beans, courgettes and capsicums.

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