Kenya: Horticulture Shrugs Off COVID-19 to Earn Kenya Sh72 Billion in Five Months

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Earnings from horticulture exports grew by Sh7 billion in the first five months of the year.

This was helped by high demand for vegetables and fruits, defying the Covid-19 scourge that disrupted the global market, where Kenya sells the bulk of its produce.

Data from the Directorate of Horticulture indicates the earnings rose to Sh72 billion between January and May this year, from Sh65 billion the same period in 2019, an 11 per cent rise.

Fruits registered higher growth compared to vegetables and flowers, lifted mainly by high appetite for and volumes of avocado.

The latest industry statistics indicate that fruits recorded a growth of Sh5 billion to hit Sh11 billion in the review period from Sh6 billion in corresponding period, while vegetables recorded a Sh400 million jump from Sh10.1 billion last year to Sh10.5 billion this year.

FLOWER EARNINGS

Flower earnings were up by Sh2.1 billion to hit Sh51.1 billion, a 4.2 per cent rise.

“We have been supplying to a few countries at a relatively higher price, which lifted the earnings in the past five months as compared with the previous period,” said Benjamin Tito, head of the directorate.

At Sh11 billion in five months to May, earnings from fruits are just Sh2 billion short of surpassing what was recorded in a full year in 2019.

The increase in value defied restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19, which saw many countries, especially in Europe, which is the country’s main market, impose lockdown, leading to the cancellation of most of the orders.

ENHANCED DEMAND

Mr Tito said higher earnings were occasioned by enhanced demand and good prices that Kenya’s produce fetched in the world market.

The impressive performance was registered against the backdrop of a decline in volumes, which was 12 per cent down when compared with the previous season.

Industry data from the directorate indicates the volumes dropped from 136 million kilogrammes in the review period from 156 million in the corresponding period in 2019.

Fruits and vegetables have been in high demand in the European market because of the dietary needs to boost body immunity in the wake of Covid-19.

On the other hand, flowers, which are considered a luxury, did not have much demand during the pandemic period and just picked up on Mother’s Day before the orders plummeted again.

Mr Tito said the earnings are expected to grow further in the coming months as most countries in Europe have started opening their economies.

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