Horticulture earnings dropped by Sh32 billion in the first half of the year on the back of reduced returns from flowers, vegetables and fruits.
The Horticulture Directorate says the value of export produce declined by 40 percent to Sh48.4 billion from Sh80.7 billion in the corresponding period a year earlier.
The regulator says the value was pulled down by a decline in volume and lower quality avocado in the first quarter of the year as the exported products were not mature enough. This led to low value realised and more rejections of the produce in the world market.
“There was a huge decline in volumes in the review period that pulled down the overall earnings. We also had issues with our hass avocado,” said the directorate.
The data shows that the volume of fruits dropped from 82.1 million kilogrammes to 44 million kilos in the review period. The directorate had projected that the export earnings for horticulture would pick from April onwards after the ban on harvesting of avocado was lifted in March, however, that is yet to reflect in the latest figures.
Earnings from flowers dropped from Sh53.2 billion last year to Sh37.3 billion in the half period under review while fruits raked in Sh5.6 billion from Sh12 billion previously. Returns from vegetables fell by Sh10.1 billion to 5.4 billion.
Flowers normally make the largest share of the total horticulture export earnings as they are high-value crops. Earnings from horticulture exports hit a historic high last year at Sh158 billion to remain the leading foreign exchange earner in the last two years by staying ahead of tea and tourism.
The good results were boosted by the high demand for Kenyan produce in the world market last year, according to the Directorate of Horticulture.
The European Union still takes the largest portion of Kenyan horticultural exports, buying 45 percent of the commodities mainly comprising cut flowers, French beans, snow peas, and Asian vegetables.
The leading export destinations for all the horticultural produce are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, the Middle East and the Far East.
Agriculture and Food Authority — the crops regulator is working at diversifying the market as it seeks to cut reliance on the European market which it says could hurt Kenya’s produce if the market becomes volatile.