Kenya: Horticulture Earnings Shrug Off Covid-19, Jump to Sh81 Billion

Earnings from horticulture in the first half of the year rose to Sh81 billion against Sh76 billion in the same period in 2019, despite trade interruption caused by Covid-19.

The returns were boosted by higher demand for fruits and vegetables as Europe - Kenya's major market for fresh produce - opened up its economy after weeks of lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

Fruits registered almost double income growth from Sh7 billion to Sh12 billion in the review period.

"Our produce has been in high demand and the price has been good, helping lift up the earnings in the past six months," said Benjamin Tito, head of the Horticulture Directorate.

Improved income from fruits was boosted by high volumes of avocado following ongoing harvest of the produce across the country.

Flowers, which normally account for the largest portion of income from horticulture exports, raked in Sh56 billion, a two per cent increase from the previous period.

Flower exports have been highly impacted by Covid-19, which saw orders that had been earlier made by overseas buyers cancelled as the auction in Amsterdam closed, leaving growers with the option of direct sales.

However, the auction has so far reopened and stakeholders in the flower sector are hoping for a good harvest ahead of the peak season in September.

Mr Tito said higher earnings were occasioned by enhanced demand and good prices that Kenya's produce fetched in the world market.

The impressive performance was registered against the backdrop of a decline in volumes, which was 19 million tonnes short of the previous season.

Industry data from the directorate indicates the volumes dropped to 160 million kilogrammes in the review period from 181 million in the corresponding period in 2019.

Fruits and vegetables have been in high demand in the European market because of the needs to boost body immunity in the wake of Covid-19.

It is not all rosy though, as the second wave of infections in Europe, which accounts for over 60 per cent of Kenya"s produce, has seen some of the countries impose another round of lockdowns.

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