Kenya is betting on its agricultural produce to penetrate China and India in a new strategy that seeks to more than triple exports in four years, Deputy President William Ruto has said.
The five new envoys appointed to Asian nations, Mr Ruto said, had been tasked with primarily growing and expanding the market for farm produce such as tea, coffee, cut flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Former Agriculture secretary Willy Bett took over as Kenya's High Commissioner to India earlier in the year, while former Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Sarah Serem is awaiting National Assembly's approval to become new ambassador to China.
Mr Ruto said on Tuesday it was alarming that Beijing and New Delhi on average account for four per cent of Kenyan exports despite controlling more than 40 per cent share of imports.
China and India shipped in goods worth nearly Ksh561.04 billion ($5 billion) last year, 32.51 per cent of Ksh1.723 trillion ($10 billion) total imports into Kenya against Ksh594.13 billion ($5 billion) in earnings from exports, official data shows.
"We have to devise ways to penetrate the export markets and expand our foreign trade footprint, especially in Asia," Mr Ruto said in Nairobi, adding: "We will keep to our game and make sure we don't lose our focus."
The new plan, the Integrated National Exports Development and Promotion Strategy, seeks to grow the share of exports to Kenya's gross domestic product from about eight per cent last year to 25 per cent by 2022.
Implementation of the strategy will cost taxpayers an estimated Ksh800 billion ($8 billion) in five years, State-owned Export Promotion Council said.
"The strategy has been developed through consultation with the private sector and those are the sectors where Kenya has a competitive advantage to grow wealth and this is a result of analysis of data," chief executive Peter Biwott told the Business Daily in an interview on the sidelines of Kenya Trade Week in Nairobi.