Noel Wandera, Xinhua
MARKET: Kenya recorded a mixed bag of fortunes in the horticulture sector last year, with vegetable export revenues declining to $28 million (Sh3 billion), while flowers’ defied the Covid-19 pandemic to soar by $42 million (Sh4.5 billion).
Okisegere Ojepat, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) attributed the dip in vegetable exports to a decline in demand due to the lockdown measures in the European Union and Britain to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.
“The key reason for declining revenues was the reduced market demand due to lockdowns, especially in the European Union and Britain in 2020,” said Ojepat.
The exports, he said, came on the back of 60,000 tonnes of vegetables exported, compared to 73,000 tonnes in 2019, but warned the decline in performance was likely to persist this year with the continued spread of the pandemic.
Key vegetable exports include French beans and snow peas which are mostly sold to the European Union and Britain.
Ojepat said the period in review saw Kenya earn $167 million (Sh18.2 billion) from exports of fruits compared to $120 million (Sh13 billion)in 2019. 104,000 tons of fruits including avocado and mangoes were sold last year.
Meanwhile, Fresh Produce Exporters of Kenya (FPEK) CEO Hosea Machuki, said the spike in flower exports benefited from higher average prices due to a reduction of supply in the international market.
The reduction created big demand, with the sub-sector earning Sh108.8 billion ($993 million) in 2020, up from $951 million the previous year from export of 142,000 tonnes of flowers.
However, Michuki said, profit margins were subdued by higher airfreight delivery charges to the markets.
More than 70 per cent of Kenya’s exports are sold in the European Union, with consumers buying the commodity through the Dutch flower auction.
However, the cut-flower sectors celebration might be short-lived, with fear that an increment in cess levy from the previous 30 cents per kilo to 0.25 per cent of customer value will hurt.
Small suppliers suffered the brunt of the Covid-19, with most struggling to make sales.