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German importers on the floods in Kenya:

Prices for legumes have quintupled in some cases

In Kenya, after heavy rains and flooding, 228 people have died. Over 220,000 people are affected as Cyclone "Hidaya" approaches. The natural disaster in large parts of the East African Republic has already caused severe damage to the agricultural sector and accordingly affects exports, including those to Europe. spoke with some German importers dedicated to the import and distribution of Kenyan produce about the current situation.

The floodings particularly severely impacted Kenyan legume cultivation.

Limited availability of legumes
The region around Mount Kenya, at the heart of Kenya, known as the main cultivation area for sugar snap peas and mangetout, which are particularly exported to Europe around this time of year, April and May, has been hit hard by the floodings. "As a result, the floodings have hit us full force," reports Bertrand Sabadie from Elbefruit Ltd, based in Hamburg. "Due to poor quality and residue issues, we currently have very little exportable goods available. Overall, there are volume losses of up to 70 percent in our contract farming."

This situation accordingly affects the price level of both products, Sabadie continues. "In the past three weeks, prices have risen sharply and they are still trending upwards. We only expect a slight recovery in the market from the end of week 21, as soon as the first air-freighted goods from Peru hit the market, closely followed by goods from Zimbabwe. Overall, the supply situation will certainly remain extremely critical until the end of the month."

For air-freighted herbs, the supply situation has been satisfactory so far. Quality and availability of the herbs are still good, summarizes Philippe Kahn, importer and managing director of the Munich-based company Herbafrucht Ltd. "On the other hand, the availability of sugar snap peas and Kenyan beans is trending towards zero. Since the season in Egypt ended a few months ago, there simply has been no produce."

Flood disaster in Kenya.

Lower output
Due to the ongoing catastrophic rainfall since April, especially in the highland areas, soil erosion and complete crop failures occurred. Meanwhile, the lowland areas have experienced flooding. "Mangetout and sugar snap peas, which are mainly cultivated in the highland areas, have been severely affected in quality by green and black spots and other fungal diseases. This has led to significant losses for local farmers, as in many places it was not possible to protect the crops adequately due to the excessive rainfall. Specifically, green beans were affected by mold and fungal infestation, leading to corresponding quality problems," says Stella Rasmussen, a native Kenyan and managing director of the company of the same name, based in Meerbusch.

Adding to the challenge are the high costs in terms of plant protection and seeds, Ms. Rasmussen continues. "Unfortunately, this will lead to small-scale farmers in particular being increasingly excluded from the value chain. The output, that is, the ratio between the gross yield and the packable and exportable goods, is trending downwards strongly.

Normally, the output for green beans is at 70-80 percent and for sugar snap peas and mangetout at about 65-70 percent. Due to the poorer quality that is currently entering the market, this value has dropped to around 50 percent for green beans and 30-40 percent for sugar snap peas and mangetout. This means that an exporter, who receives for example 1,000 kg of raw produce, can only pack and market 500 kg of green beans and 300-400 kg of mangetout and sugar snap peas in the end. This is also reflected in the prices: overall, prices in the entire legume category have quintupled in the shortest time."

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