Horticulture earnings grow to Sh73.7 billion

Published on 26/02/2009

By Benson Kathuri

Earnings from the horticultural sector rose to Sh73.7 billion last year up from Sh57.3 billion in 2007, Agriculture PS Romano Kiome has said.

The industry recorded a 28.8 per cent growth with export volumes growing by 9.8 per cent to 423,000 tonnes.

“The main growth commodites were cut flowers, processed vegatables and fruits,” he said during a press briefing in a city hotel yesterday.

“There is a significant increase in export of summer flowers and vegatables, which are produced mainly by small scale growers.”

He, however, asked stakeholders to diversify to other markets, mainly Japan, to cushion themselves from the global finacial crisis that has hit major export markets in the European Union (EU). The EU market accounted for 82.4 per cent of the exports with the United Kingdom accounting for 32.8 per cent. Other emerging markets that need to be developed further include the USA, Japan and Russia.

Rising demand

Kiome also said the industry seems to have withered the impact of the ongoing financial crisis with demand for fruits and vegetables having risen by 20 per cent in January. The sector also suffered from post-election violence in January and February last year that displaced thousands of workers especially in the flower farms around Lake Naivasha.

Cost of flights that account for 45 to 55 per cent of the total costs also went up mid-last year when crude oil prices rose to more than $150 a barrel. Kenya Flower Council Chief Executive Jane Ngigi and her Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya counterpart Daniel Mbithi say the sector may improve this year.

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