Horticulture Industry in Kenya

Horticultural crops are Kenya's latest foreign exchange earner to cross the Sh100 billion mark, bursting into the league of tea, tourism and diaspora remittances.   According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics dollars brought in by vegetable, flower and fruit exports rose 12% over last year's earnings to hit KES101.5 billion.  Kenya exported a total of 133,658.3 tonnes of cut flowers, earning Sh 70.8 billion or 70% of the 2016 horticultural earnings.

Industry Success

“The future of the horticulture industry is projected to continue its upward growth at a slightly reduced trend of 9.22 percent compared to the previous trend of 10 percent. Owing to initiatives and measures being pursued by value chain players the industry segments –flowers, vegetables and fruits are expected to register stabilized performance. The industry is further expected to achieve improved control and compliance to market requirements,” Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) acting interim director Zakayo Magara

Horticultural crops in Kenya include flowers, fruits and vegetables. The Horticultural sub sector is the fastest growing industry within the agricultural sector, recording an average growth of 15% to 20% per annum and is ranked third in terms of foreign exchange earnings from exports after tourism and tea. It contributes positively to wealth creation, Kenya’s food security, poverty alleviation, and gender equity especially in the rural areas. The industry continues to contribute to the Kenyan economy through generation of income, creation of employment opportunities for rural people (who constitute 80 % of producers), in addition to providing raw materials to the agro processing industry. The sub sector employs approximately 4.5 million people countrywide directly in production, processing, and marketing, while another 3.5 million people benefit indirectly through trade and other activities. Kenya’s economy largely relies on the agriculture sector which contributes 25.3 % of Kenya’s GDP out of which horticulture contributes 2.8 %  by generating approximately US $ 1 billion annually.  In this way the industry is aligned to the government’s vision 2030 agenda.

Industry Strength

Currently the future of the horticulture industry is bright and a positive growth is anticipated over the coming years.   Kenya is blessed with various endowments which enhances this projection.  They include:

  • Relatively good infrastructure (elaborate transport system, energy supply, etc)
  • Favourable agro-climatic condistions providing an opportunity to grow quality produce throughout the year
  • Maintenance of high standards through complinace to the KS 1758 the National Mechanism for Compliance and the National Horticulture Traceability System
  • Good and informed marketing by the farmers
  • Vast knowledge & adoption of technology
  • Dynamic smallholders
  • Massive investments by both local & overseas investors
  • Availability of qualified labour force
  • Good cooperation between industry & the Government
  • Strong Advocacy and Lobby unit

Conclusion

Kenya stands to benefit tremendously once it secures her markets as a result of the interventions by the KHC.  Efficiency in the use of resources will be realized. Moreover the profile of the horticulture industry as a source of quality products will rise leading to sustained market access.  The industry along with both governments will ensure that the measures adopted are sustainable and in tandem with government policy. 

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