Kenya plans to boost horticulture exports to China

Kenya is seeking to increase its horticulture exports to China in order to boost its revenues, the industry said on Monday.

The Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) Chief Executive Ojepat Okisegere speaking Monday said China, which has a huge consumer market, can give better revenues as compared to traditional markets in Europe.

According to the ministry of agriculture, Kenya generated approximately Ksh.148 billion from horticulture exports in 2020.

Okisegere said that Kenya currently exports frozen avocados and flowers to China.

The industry is looking to expand into new markets such as China in order to reduce overdependence on a single region, Okisegere added.

The industrial official added that the country is keen to leverage the well developed air and sea freight connections between Kenya and China to boost horticulture exports.

He said that it can rapidly ramp up horticulture production because of the availability of large tracts of land that is suitable for cultivation of flowers, fruits and vegetables.

The explorton of new market for fresh produce comes in the wake of a petition by farmers in Kenya through FPC, National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) and Cereal Growers Association against the parliament seeking to review and overturn a recommendation to ban all agricultural inputs in Kenya banned in Europe.

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Environmentalist and organic farming group petitioned parliament to ban use of 262 molecules used in the manufacture of various farm inputs.

According to the fresh produce consortium of Kenya, NPCK and Cereal Growers Association, the committee did not review the EU policy that led to the ban.

The three organisations argued that the rest of the world blanket has disputed the ban terming it as an unscientific trade barrier.

Ojepat said effecting the ban would cut Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product by more than 20 percent.

In March this year, EU had outlines plans to launch a program that will drive the competitiveness of Kenya’s horticultural exports in EU market.

Speaking during a virtual status meeting on the NExT initiative, the EU Deputy Head of Delegation to Kenya, Katrin Hagemann, reiterated the EU’s commitment to enhancing SPS compliance in the horticultural sector in Kenya.

”Kenya’s horticultural export trade continues to focus on Europe – made up of 27 Member States, with a population of around 506 million, the largest trading bloc in the world – and is looking to develop new destinations in Africa and beyond,” she said.

The Ksh. 650 million initiative is dubbed NExT (New Export Trade) Kenya programme. The four-year program is in collaboration with COLEACP, an association of companies and experts involved in sustainable agriculture in 50 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

NExT Kenya, which was first launched in July 2020, targets value chains with a specific focus on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the private and public services that support the horticultural sector.

Since then, the project in collaboration with the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) and other associations offered technical training for companies in integrated pest management; the development of Good Practice Guides for avocado and peas/beans; and coaching for Kenyan flower companies to reduce interceptions of false codling moth on roses exported to Europe.

The initiative is anchored on the European Green Deal – a set of policy initiatives that seek to make Europe climate neutral by 2050 through compliance with SPS and food safety standards for countries exporting fresh produce to the European Union.

In the next four years, stakeholders will need to adapt to evolving Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS), commercial, social and environmental requirements on local, regional and international markets.

On his part, the Principal Secretary for Crops Development and Agricultural Research, Prof. Hamadi Boga underscored the importance of such investments in ensuring the competitiveness of Kenyan horticultural products in the global market.

NExT Kenya targets the whole value chains with a specific focus on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and the private and public services that support the horticultural sector.

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