Poor weather slashes Sh10bn in horticulture

Export of fresh produce from Kenya down 46 percent

Kenya's fresh produce exports to the European Union have dropped by 46 percent in the last two weeks, due to the global spread of the coronavirus. This has led to complete or partial lockdowns forcing key markets to cancel or reduce orders though the impact is still average unlike that in the flower industry.

The Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) said the drop in the exports had been attributed to the limited movement of consumers in Europe. According to the association chief executive officer Wesley Siele, the fresh produce sector was stable, unlike the floriculture one which was currently facing one of its darkest moments.

Siele said that supermarkets mainly in the UK, Sweden, and Russia were still ordering fresh produce from the country. “People have to eat despite the pandemic and though the exports have dropped to 46 percent the fresh produce exporters are doing better unlike the flower farmers.”

He added that the lockdown had seen consumer movement limited leading to the cancellation of fresh produce orders. “We, however, expect the demand for the fresh produce like vegetables and fruits to stabilise in the coming days as the affected countries contain the pandemic.”

On flowers, Siele termed the situation as bad following the total collapse of the Dutch auction which is the main market for the country’s flowers. “The information we are getting is that only flowers meant for supermarkets are being shipped out while exports to Holland have been suspended,” he told the-star.co.ke.

In Naivasha anxiety gripped thousands of flower farm workers as more farmers continued to dispose of their daily harvests and send staff home. Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union (KEFHAU) secretary-general David Omulama said a majority of the farms had sent a third of their workforce home.

According to an article on businessdailyafrica.com, poor weather is responsible for slashing Sh10bn (€ 88 mln) in horticulture. Earnings from horticulture dropped by Sh10 billion last year compared with the previous period marking one of the poorest performances recorded in the sector in recent years.

Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) statistics show the earnings in the review period dropped to Sh144 billion from Sh154 billion in 2018.

Flowers made the bulk of the earnings at Sh104 billion with vegetables emerging second raking in Sh25 billion, followed by fruits at Sh13 billion.

[ Sh100 = €0.88 ]

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