Kenya horticulture exporter's position threatened


Over 40 batches of contaminated fresh produce from Kenya were intercepted in the last four months according to the European Union’s (EU) Food Safety Commission. 

There are additional claims that rejected flowers and fruit are being smuggled into Europe, which could be reason for the EU’s increased safety measures towards product exported from Kenya.  

“Agriculture is the main stake of Kenya’s economy. Kenya’s agricultural products of horticulture, coffee and tea contribute about 25 per cent to the country’s GDP. A slowdown in that sector will massively impact the economy,” Moses Waireri, head of research at Sterling Capital, told CNBC Africa.

Kenya will have to heighten safety measures on its horticulture exports in order to cement its position in the sector from Ethiopia their competitor.

A report on the state of East Africa shows that flower importers are shifting their focus to India and Ethiopia for cheaper flowers in the wake of rising cost of production in Kenya.

(READ MORE: Kenya flower industry under threat)

“Kenya has to be proactive and diversify in other fields. Already horticulture and tourism contribute to about 40 per cent to the GDP. We [Kenya] need to speak to our partners and look for other strategies to boost our economy,” said Waireri.

The coffee and tea industries are also in deep waters, as prices at the international market has seen Kenya’s total earnings from exports decline. The earnings dipped albeit marginally due to the price falls.

“All was expected [the decline of coffee and tea]. The International Monetary Fund report’s said that agricultural products will drop in the global market,” Waireri added.

Coffee, one of Kenya’s leading exports, was among the worst affected. The decline is attributed to reduced earnings from oil products, manufactured goods, raw materials, chemicals and other non-categorized exports.

(READ MORE: Kenya coffee sector close to clutching at straws)

“Agriculture is rain fed. If there is a shortfall in rain, we are not able to reach our numbers for export for these products. We need to find ways to still beam in the agricultural sector. Look at Israel, it is a desert country but its agricultural sector is flourishing,” said Waireri.

In 2013 Kenya earned 5.29 billion Kenyan shilling more in horticulture from 87.71 billion Kenyan shillings the previous year.