Kenya horticulture industry feted

Saturday October 27 2012

Kenya’s flower sector is thriving. Picture: File

Kenya’s flower sector is thriving. Picture: File 

Kenya’s horticultural industry is a good model, which other East African member states can borrow, according to the World Bank.
Country director Jonathan Zutt said other countries can learn a lot from Kenya’s competitive horticultural industry.

“As a result of good government policies, Kenya’s horticultural industry has achieved international standards worth emulating by the other East African countries,” he said on the sidelines of the launch of the Devolution Report in Nairobi last week.

Mr Zutt said Kenya has been able to tap into the lucrative trade using quality fresh fruits, vegetables and cut flowers and improved packaging technologies and communication.

Kenya Flower Council data indicates that in 2011, the sector earned $1.08 billion, making it one of the largest foreign exchange sources.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country exported 382,638 tonnes of fresh produce last year.

Mr Zutt said the World Bank has allocated $120 million to help farmer groups in Kenya improve their productivity.
“Kenya has been able to achieve the strict phyto-sanitary import requirements of the EU markets, an issue that its neighbours are still grappling with,” he said.

“As a result, the country is able to meet supply requirements regularly throughout the year,” the World Bank official added.
He noted that the logistics to transport the product to the airport is also well developed and has attracted many investors into the sector.

The director noted that there is still a lot of room for expansion of the sector, adding that  production of horticulture has gradually shifted to sub-Saharan Africa due to lower cost of production.

World Bank Kenya Economist Fred Owegi added that Kenya’s horticulture industry is doing well but could perform even better if certain measures were taken.

“There is still huge potential to increase value addition of exports as well as acreage under cultivation,” said Mr Owegi.

The economist added that Kenya’s equatorial climate is better suited for horticulture due to availability of sunlight throughout the year. “Other countries don’t have weather that is conducive to horticulture production, which is sensitive to climate conditions,” he said.