Horticulture earns Kenya Sh71.6bn
The country’s foreign exchange from horticulture dropped 2.8 per cent from Sh73.7 billion in 2008 to Sh71.6 billion last year.
Produce for export fell due to drought and a drop in market demand for some products due to recession in Europe, Kenya’s main market.
Relative to 2008, the combined effects of these two caused an overall fall of 14.8 per cent in the quantity of exports.
“In 2009, it was a difficult year but which the horticulture sector performed better than expected helped by the October-to-date rains, and depreciation of the Kenya shilling to the US dollar and other major currencies by at least 13 per cent,” said Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya chief executive Stephen Mbithi on Thursday.
“This depreciation of the shilling helped the sector greatly, since exports are paid in foreign currencies and domestic costs such as labour and inputs are paid in shillings.”
Despite the drop in earnings, horticulture remains the highest foreign exchange earner ahead of tea and tourism.
Last year tourism brought in Sh62.4 billion while tea earned the country Sh69 billion.
Flowers accounted for 51.8 per cent of the shilling value of exports in 2009 with fruits and vegetables comprising 48.2 per cent thus maintaining 2008 export levels in terms of quantity and value.
Cut flowers made up 95 per cent of all flower exports.
“Fresh vegetables accounted for 24 per cent of 2009 exports but suffered from both drought and reduced market demand, resulting in a fall of 5.5 per cent in exported quantities and value, equivalent to a 14 per cent fall in dollar returns,” said Dr Mbithi.
Processed fruit and vegetable products accounted for under 10 per cent of exports respectively but suffered most from reduced market demand, with exported quantities of canned beans and pineapple products falling by 55 per cent and 24 per cent respectively, compared to the previous year.
Exports of fresh fruit, particularly avocado, mango and passion fruit, increased by 46 per cent.
Although fresh fruit accounted for only 3.3 per cent of total exports it was the fastest growing category in 2009 with a wide range of regional, Middle East and European Union export destinations.