Kenyan horticultural growers last year earned Ksh153 billion in exports, yet the country exports only 10 per cent of its potential for some commodities.
But export potential is likely to triple in the next four years, as stakeholders led by Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC Kenya) engage with Kenyan foreign missions and embassies in Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Korea, UAE, India, and China.
A report by the Fresh Produce of Consortium of Kenya (FPC Kenya) says that fruits accounted for Sh17 billion, with avocados earning Sh14.4 billion, while banana had the least earnings in the export market at Sh3.6 million.
The export earnings place Kenya at position six for the avocado and position 112 for banana in export markets.
Mr Okisegere Ojepat, the chief executive officer at Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya attributes the low export potential to a lack of market linkages.
“It is evident that the avocado and banana value chains are important economic fruit crops that deserve budgetary support by all stakeholders both in government and private sector,” says Mr Ojepat.
How is the growth to come about?
To address the marketing challenges, FPC Kenya with support from USAID through RTI’s Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS) has developed a digital marketing strategy to boost the visibility of Kenyan avocados and bananas in the local and international markets.
The CEO says the strategy seeks to exploit digital tools to better connect with the global market, improve information dissemination, change consumer attitudes, and improve access to Kenyan avocado and bananas in the global marketplace.
“With the launch of this digital marketing strategy and campaign, we are focused and aim to grow Kenya’s market share in the EU countries, the UK, the Middle East, Korea, India, and China
To grow the market and meet our desired and ambitious plan we must increase production of good quality avocados and bananas and develop and maintain high-quality post-harvest handling facilities and processes,” Mr Ojepat added.
Other initiatives to make the export market a reality include high-level branding of the Kenyan horticultural produce, and levelling, demonstrating, and maintaining of a watertight traceability system.
Farmers and other stakeholders in the value chain system will also have to commit to the timely delivery of the export products and produce to the market.
By John Ndirangu