Horticulture has continued to be one of the fastest growing sub sectors in Kenya’s export sector, growing at over 7% annually. Since 2003 horticultural exports have been the leading foreign exchange earner in the agricultural sector. In 2005, horticultural exports grew by over 19.1% over the 2004 export values.
This continued growth is attributed to the dynamic private sector and the effective facilitative role provided by the relevant public and private sector institutions. This has been brought about by intensive market promotion programmes implemented by the sector stakeholders.
The horticultural industry in Kenya is committed to the production of high quality and environmentally friendly products while preserving the health and welfare of the workers. In order to meet changing market requirements and ensure proper use of agro-chemicals, the Government has put in place the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), which licenses and registers all the pest control products imported and used in this country. They ensure that the pesticides used in horticultural production are safe and are also approved for use in other parts of the world.
The Government and the industry stakeholders train farmers on the safe use of pesticides. The farmers’ training covers issues on application of chemicals in the right quantities and intervals to ensure that the maximum residue limits are not exceeded.
This ensures environmental protection and serves to ensure that Kenya’s horticultural exports meet the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) requirements.
As a result of the increasing concerns on pesticide usage, traceability of produce, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, worker welfare and social responsibilities, the Kenya horticultural industry has come up with a harmonised National Code of Practice.
This Code of practice aims at ensuring good agricultural practices and due diligence to safeguard the consumer, the environment and the health of the workers. The National Code of Practice also addresses the post-harvest handling process.
In addition to the National Code of Practce, the two trade associations within the horticultural sector i.e. Kenya Flower Council and Fresh Produce Exporters Association, promote specific Codes of Practice for their members.
HORTICULTURAL EXPORTS INCLUDE:
This is by far the most important component constituting 45% by volume and 57% by value of total fresh horticultural exports in 2005. Kenya exports over 60% of its cutflowers to the Netherlands while the rest are exported directly to wholesalers and retail outlets such as supermarkets and grocers as well as other retail intermediaries mainly in Europe especially UK .
Major cutflower exports from Kenya include roses, Carthamus, cuttings, cut-foliage, carnations, statice, alstroemeria, etc.
This is the second most important product group within the horticultural industry, which by volume contributes to about 35% of total fresh produce exports. The main product is the French (green) beans. However, the importance of other vegetables for export such as sugar snaps, snow peas and runner beans have increased. Other vegatables for export include the Asian vegetables such as Okra, Karela, dudhi, chilli and aurbergine.
This is the third category of the fresh horticultural exports from Kenya. Fruit exports have been growing slowly but steadily. Major fruit export products include avocadoes, mangoes, pineapples, passion fruits, bananas, and strawberry.
Processed horticultural Products
Exports of value added horticultural exports have been on the increase. This is as a result of increasing demand for natural foods as health consciousness increases among the consumers both in Kenya and the region. The main products under this category include canned pineapples, juices of mangoes, passion fruits and pineapples, canned vegetables, pickles, pastes, jams, jellies, marmalades and preserves.
The export destination for the processed horticultural products is the regional market and the EU for pineapples and passion fruits. Great opportunities exist in canning, freezing and drying (sun) and/or roasting. Another area in value addition that has seen significant growth is the pre-packs (consumer packs) for fresh produce meant for supermarkets.
Herbs and Spices
Due to increased health awareness by consumers worldwide -, consumption of herbs and spices has increased. Kenya has been exporting herbs and spices for decades and the demand for these products is bound to increase. The types of herbs exported from Kenya include lemon grass, basil, dill, sweet Marjaram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, chamomile, tarragon, etc.
On the other hand, exports of spices include garlic, ginger, coriander, chilies, paprika, turmeric and cumin.
Export Promotion Council