The horticulture sub sector has rapidly grown over the years. This can be attributed to the country’s suitable climatic conditions for the various horticultural crops. Essentially, all the 47 counties in Kenya are suitable for production of the vast range of horticultural crops.
The subsector has significant contribution to the economy in terms growth in GDP from domestic and export markets, for instance, in 2016 the value of domestic horticulture, based on farm gate estimations was KES.134 Billion while the value of fresh horticultural produce exports amounted to KES 101.5 Billion. In 2017, the value of production in the domestic horticulture subsector amounted to KES.220Billion, while exports earned the country KES.115 Billion. The subsector has potential to increase its contribution several times but all these have been held back by a number of challenges key among them are as follows:
- Limited coordination of horticulture partners and other stakeholders/value chain institutions at both national and county levels and between the two levels of government;
- Weak institutions and associations across horticulture value chains. Inadequate market infrastructure and supply chain;
- Inadequate access to quality inputs such as seeds/seedlings, agro-chemicals and services;
- Poorly harmonized levies across the counties,
- Low adoption of technologies for value addition and irrigation,
- Non-compliance and adherence to quality standards among others.
A series of efforts have been made to strengthen the agricultural sector, (horticulture subsector included). These efforts include the collaboration between the Ministry and the Council of Governors in 2017, where these two institutions engaged in a consultative process of developing the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) and the National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP). The ASTGS elaborates on the steps to be taken to transform the agricultural sector, from its unproductive conventional status, to the modern commercially oriented and robust agricultural sector over a period of the next 10 years. These steps include formation of production, marketing and value addition hubs. These hubs shall provide a perfect entry point for the private sector players to form PPPs which is critical in the development of horticulture sub-sector.
Formation of the National Horticulture Transformation Technical Working Group NHTTWG
To better seize and optimize the opportunities presented above in advancing horticulture sub sector, the State Department for Crop Development and Agricultural Research has established the National Horticulture Transformation Technical Working Group NHTTWG. The group has membership from all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Council of Governors, relevant development partners, civil society organizations, business member organizations and associations, private sector players. The technical working group held its first meeting on 16thJuly 2019 at Kilimo House where members ratified the terms of reference (TORs). Thereafter, members agreed to form 9 subcommitteesthat will handle the following thematic areas,
- Policy, legislation, Regulations, and Institutional Strengthening,
- Horticulture Data and Information Management ,
- Phyto-sanitary Standards, Food Safety and Consumption,
- Market Development, Logistics and Trade,
- Increase in Production and productivity of horticultural crops,
- Improve the level of Processing
- Research, Technology and Innovations,
- Skills Knowledge Development and Dissemination ,
- Program Planning, Resource Mobilization and Monitoring & evaluation
Each subcommittee has been holding monthly meetings. They have already polished the TORs, developed outputs, interventions/activities, set targets for each activity, performance indicators. The indicators have been converted into draft data collection tools, each subcommittee is planning to pretest and validate them in preparation for collection of baseline data as well as continuous real-time data collection that will facilitate development of horticulture industry. All these data shall be fed into a web based Integrated Management Information System that will connect all value chain actors (Input dealers/manufacturers, Producers, service providers, buyers (traders, processors, exporters, consumers etc) National and county Governments, Regional and Export Markets.
Lastly, the Working Group will consolidate the input from all the subcommittee and develop a comprehensive proposal for transformation of the Industry. This proposal will have prioritized action plan for a period of five years which is sufficient to transform the entire industry. This the official document we will use to mobilize resources from exchequer and our development partners.
The National Horticulture Transformation Technical Working Group (NHTTWG) envisages creating harmony in the horticulture industry at national level, down to the counties and finally at the ward levels. It targets to create coordination for all industry actors, leading to reduced duplication of efforts while creating synergies. The (NHTTWG)also wants to leverage on all resources we have in terms of expertise in human capital, facilities in both private and public institutions, among other resources, which can be maximized to improve the industry. It also wishes to foster collaboration between the public and private sectors as well as increase the private sectors awareness of the government institutions and their mandates.
Ultimately, we wish to achieve our vision of having an industry that is highly regulated and able to meet all the consumers’ quality and safety standards.