Britain’s exit from the European Union will not disrupt Kenya’s horticulture exports to that country, said a senior Kenyan government official, after industry data showed the African nation’s total horticulture exports jumped 33 per cent last year.
“There will be no market disruption because of Brexit,” Chris Kiptoo, principal secretary at the Ministry of Trade, said at a press conference on Tuesday.
United Kingdom, Holland, Germany and France account for a bulk of Kenya’s exports.
Kenya earned Ksh153.68 billion ($1.53 billion) last year from horticulture exports, three industry bodies said.
Earnings for the sector are expected to rise by at least 4 per cent in 2019, said Clement Tulezi, chief executive officer of the Kenya Flower Council.
“We project that in 2019 we should surpass Ksh160 billion ($1.6 billion) but that is conservative,” he told Reuters, adding that almost half the flower sales were made during Valentine’s and Mother’s Day.
Fresh produce exports are a key source of hard currency for the East African economy, along with tourism, cash sent home by Kenyans abroad and coffee and tea exports.
Flowers fetched Ksh113.17 billion ($1.1 billion) last year, compared with Ksh82.25 billion ($819 million) in 2017, while vegetables accounted for Ksh27.69 billion ($275.8 million) as against Ksh24.06 billion ($240 million) , the Kenya Flower Council, the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya and the Fresh Produce Consortium said in a joint statement.
Fruits fetched Ksh12.83 billion ($127.8 million) as against Ksh9 billion ($89.6 million) in the previous year, it added.
Farming is the biggest sector in Kenya’s economy, accounting for about 30 per cent of annual output and employing more than half of the population, especially in the rural areas.
Kenya’s current account deficit narrowed to 5.1 per cent in the 12 months to November 2018, compared to 6.5 per cent in November 2017, the central bank said last month, helped by a strong performance in the horticulture sector.
The current account deficit is estimated at 5.2 per cent of GDP in 2018, and is expected to narrow to 5.1 per cent in 2019, the central bank added.