USAID Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP) is carrying out a long-term study to assess the competitiveness of selected horticultural crops. The study aims to identify, and quantify where possible, the comparative and competitive advantages, challenges and opportunities for specific export and domestic market crops and, in the process, identify cross-cutting factors that affect the industry as a whole. Country data from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Egypt and Ecuador was incorporated into the benchmarking analysis.
The project has prepared a a summary of preliminary research findings, for discussion with industry stakeholders in order to select priority crops and map the way forward for more detailed, crop-specific competitiveness analyses. The focus crops covered to date, for which some preliminary information is provided in this report, are fresh-cut vegetables (French beans as the proxy crop), Asian Vegetables (Chilli as the proxy crop), sweet potato and summer flowers.
The purpose of the exercise is to seek ways of maintaining Kenya’s leading position and good reputation that are key to continued export growth to the EU market and for diversification into new markets in the future.
Key among the issues :
- Gradual increase of direct and indirect taxes that are making the industry less cost competitive.
- Kenya’s sea freight rates to Europe are relatively high. However, lower prices are available on outward bound cargo to Asian countries. Rather than concentrate on EU markets where competition is high and consumer spending power is reducing, the emerging markets of Asiamay have more potential.
- Labour costs are high in Kenya and continue to rise, mostly attributed to an educated workforce and inflation. Kenya has a comparative advantage in the availability of well-trained supervisors and technicians but unskilled labour is expensive.
- Compliance with maximum residue levels (MRL) is crucial to continued growth of the industry.With Kenya having seen an increased number of interceptions in 2011, there is need to enforce regulatory systems on agrochemical use in horticulture. The ban of dimethoate use on fruits and vegetables will contribute significantly to adherence to MRL requirements.
- Much of horticultural production is not irrigated, leading to erratic production and insecure income for farmers.
The findings will be presented on Monday September 10, 2012 at Serena Hotel at 2 pm, presided over by to Agriculture PS, Romano Kiome.
Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness project: 0723911145
Catherine Riungu: HortiNews: 0722848970