Kenya’s earnings from fresh produce exports in 2017 jumped to Sh115.25 billion, a 11 per cent increase over 2016 earnings.
Unveiling the statistics at a stakeholders’ breakfast in Niairobi, Mr. Okesegere Ojepat, Chief Executive Officer of Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Consortium said the sector remained resilient amid political and economic uncertainties of the 2017.
“We laud the resilience of the fresh produce sector in the eye of the political and economic storm witnessed in 2017 and we are happy with the performance. This is the similar resilience that enabled the sector weather the Brexit shock, pointing to the greater potential of the sector,” said Mr. Ojepat.
The data released by FPC Kenya showed flower exports contributed Sh 82.24 billion up from Sh70.83 billion earned in 2016, representing 11.6 per cent growth, on export volume of 159,961 tonnes.
Fruits and vegetables earned Sh9 billion and Sh. 24 billion, on export volumes of 56,945 tones and 87,240 tonnes, respectively. The cut-flower export still remains the largest earner, contributing over 70 per cent of the total fresh produce annual earnings.
Mr. Ojepat was speaking at the official launch of FPC Kenya, which rebranded from Kenya Association of Fruits and Vegetable Exporters.
“The rebranding now broadens our mandate to cover more areas particularly domestic market which has never been well coordinated, offers us capacity to engage with more stakeholders, and enables us to extend our membership and grow the sector,” he said.
Last year, the fresh produce sector earned Ksh305 billion, a figure which Mr. Ojepat believe is higher as bigger portion of trade at the domestic market levels is not captured.
Currently the Consortium has 107 members drawn from exporters, suppliers to both export and domestic markets, laboratories, agro chemical companies, agricultural consultants, financial institutions and associations in the agricultural/horticulture Industry.
SYSTEM AND FISCAL CHALLENGES
The fresh produce sector has faced several challenges including lack of traceability of system for the fresh produce, high cost of production, lack of extension services, poor information follow, brokers/middlemen menace, insufficient cooling facilities, weak compliance to food safety requirements, and taxation issues.
Mr. said FPC Kenya was seeking to fill in the gaps and help in smoothening the information follow between various stakeholders, help structure the market by in-cooperation all value chain actors, encouraging and strengthening market and market linkages, supporting production systems in counties, encouraging consultation processes, encouraging relevant institutions particularly private sector to invest in cold chain, and building partnerships with multi-sector partners.
“Going forward FPC Kenya will focus on ensuring proper representation, lobbying and advocacy for its members, capacity building, food safety, food and nutritional security, food loss and waste, and trade, which we believe will enable us expand the fresh produce sector in terms of production capacity and earnings,” he said.