Kenya’s horticulture exports up 18 per cent


Nairobi: Kenya’s earnings from horticulture exports rose 18 percent last year, despite a marginal dip in volumes, buoyed by a favourable exchange rate and strong prices for vegetables and fruits, an industry body said on Monday.

Horticulture is the country’s leading source of foreign exchange, alongside tourism, remittances from Kenyans living abroad and tea exports.

East Africa’s largest economy earned 91.6 billion shillings from the sale of flower, fruit, vegetable and nut exports in 2011, data from the USAID Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP) showed.

It said flowers, which make up the bulk of the earnings for the industry, fetched 44.51 billion shillings from 35.56 billion shillings in 2010.

The body, which aims to boost employment in the industry, said there was scope for further growth in 2012, especially in flower production, which makes up the bulk of the sector’s earnings.

“With only months remaining to the general elections, the industry is facing major challenges emanating from concern over the economic status of countries in the global market,” the body said in a statement.

Kenya exports most its horticultural produce to Europe, whose sovereign debt crisis has driven many countries to the brink of recession at the start of 2012.

An industry association, Kenya Flower Council (KFC) early this month projected a rise in earnings from last year thanks to a favourable exchange rate for most of the year, despite earlier warnings they could fall below target due to the euro zone crisis.

The Kenyan shilling weakened to an all-time low of 107 shillings to the dollar, but has since regained ground to 83.00/20 where it is trading on Monday, resulting from a series of central bank hikes in key lending rate.

The USAID Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project said the country exported 382,638 tonnes of horticulture in 2011 compared with 403,026 tonnes in 2010.