October 18, 2013. An increase in export volumes of dried vegetables to India and Pakistan has seen Kenya’s horticulture exports increase by 30 percent in volume earning a total of Sh56.3 billion in the period of January to July 2013, indicates a Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project report.
The value of the export products has also increased by 8.8 percent compared to the same period last year. The rise comes at a time when there are concerns among industry players over the unresolved issue of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union, the largest market for Kenyan horticulture products.
Failure to agree before the set deadline of October 2014 would see Kenya revert to the less favorable terms under the general system of preference where some of its products, which it has been exporting to the market at zero duty, attracting between 8.5 percent and 15.7 per cent duty.
In the flower sector, exports grew by Sh0.9 billion to Sh10 billion in July 2013 compared to similar period in 2012, with quantities increasing from 26,900 metric tonnes to 28,900 metric tonnes.
According to Jane Ngige the chief executive of Kenya Flower Council, “prices increased slightly and we expect the earnings to remain just about the same as in 2012”. However, flower producers expressed concern over the cold spell affecting production in the second half of 2013, which could lead to drop in tonnage.
In the fresh vegetable sector, exports between May and July decreased by 1.9 percent in value and 15.8 percent in volume compared to a similar period in 2012. The drop is attributed to the decrease in export volumes of fresh beans which form the bulk of vegetables export to the European Union. Fresh vegetable exports to the EU have been subjected to more stringent food safety standard requirements over high agrochemical residues, thus reducing the quantity traded.
The processed vegetables also saw a decrease of 8.2 percent in volume and 30.6 percent in value. The fall is linked to the persistent demand in the market leading to subsequent price increment by 11 percent compared to same period in 2012.
The fresh fruits on the other hand, decreased in the volume and value between the months of May and July by 7.1 percent and 10.4 percent respectively. The report this was links the slump to production and availability of the product from other countries in the market.
The report also indicates that processed fruits volumes and value for the period of May and July doubled compared to the same period in 2012. This was mainly attributed to the substantial increases in both volume and value of pineapple products and juices mixtures.
By Ann Ndung’u