Kenya to open hot water treatment facility to boost horticulture

The Government, through the Agriculture and Food Authority [AFA], plans to open a hot water treatment facility in Nairobi.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya said the facility will boost export of Kenya’s horticulture products to international markets.

He spoke at the Horticulture and Crops Directorate [HCD] headquarters at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Munya said the hot water treatment plant is a viable intervention for the fruit fly issue and by establishing this facility, Kenya will not only increase mango quality and value but will also be able to enter other lucrative markets.

He said the fruit fly had been a challenge even forcing the country to enact a self-imposed ban on mango exports in 2015.

“The volume exported that year was 14,047,648 MT valued at Sh1.61 billion. Since then, the volume exported decreased to 7,114,721 MT in 2020 valued at Sh1.05 billion,” he said.

Munya noted that after a series of successful interventions including the establishment of pest free areas and areas of low pest preference in select counties, Kenya was able to ship its first mango consignment to Italy in 2021 since the self-ban was effected.

“Following this development, the volume exported rose to 10,378,480 MT valued at Sh1.716 billion. Kenya is now at a trajectory phase to regain its market share in EU and win more markets. Fresh horticultural exports have continued to be one of the leading foreign exchange income earners for the country,” he said.

Data from the Horticulture and Crops Directorate (HCD) shows that the total value of horticultural produce exported in 2021 increased by 5.1 percent.

This was from Sh150 billion in 2020 to Sh157.6 billion in 2021, while volumes increased by 29 percent from 314,000 MT in 2020 to 406,000 MT in 2021.

He said this upward trend is likely to continue as shown by this year’s impressive January to March quarterly data that indicates the country exported horticulture produce worth over Sh26 billion from a volume of 2200 MT.

Munya, however, said that this growth could be threatened by pests with the False codling moth being particularly harmful to roses and avocados which are the leading exports in flowers and fruits respectively.

He said the facility will revitalize and expand the horticulture export business by improving market access therefore cementing Kenya’s position as a leading exporter of fresh horticulture produce to the global market.

“We must therefore move with speed to quickly tap into the great fortunes of the horticulture industry. This will improve social economic welfare for communities that depend on this sector,” said Munya.

The CS added that construction of a fumigation facility for avocado and flowers is also set to start in a couple of months, targeting Chinese and Australian markets respectively.

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