Crops to grow for Export to reap maximum returns

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A variety of horticultural crops which can be grown for export by smallholder farmers to earn maximum returns. 

Smallholder farmers intending to reap maximum profits from their horticultural farms can grow a variety of crops that earn maximum profits in the outside market. According to the Export Promotion Council (EPC), Cut flowers, vegetables, fresh fruits, herbs and spices form the majority of horticultural exports from Kenya to other countries.

Cut Flowers

Cut flowers are flowers or flower buds that have been cut from the plant bearing it. According to the Kenya Flower Council, Kenya is the third largest exporter of cut flowers in the world, accounting for 38% of all sales in the European Union. Cut flowers from Kenya are famed for their long lasting nature and also popular in the United States and Russia and sixty other countries.

More than 500,000 smallholder farmers in the country depend on the trade according to the Kenya Flower Council (KFC). The main production areas are around Lake Naivasha, Mt. Kenya, Nairobi, Thika, Kiambu, Athi River, Kitale, Nakuru, Kericho, Nyandarua, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Eastern Kenya.

 The main cut flowers grown in Kenya are roses, carnations, and Alstromeria. Other flowers cultivated include, Gypsophilla, Lilies Eryngiums, arabicum, hypericum, Statice, a range of summer flowers amongst many others. On the global front, a growth of 5% is anticipated every year over the next five years thus farmers venturing into growing of flowers are sure of ready market for their produce.

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 Vegetables

This is the second most important product group within the horticultural industry, which by volume contributes to about 35% of total fresh produce exports majority of which comes from smallholder farmers. The main product is the French (green) beans, sugar snaps, snow peas and runner beans. Other vegetables for gaining popularity are Asian vegetables such as Okra, Karela, dudhi, chilli and aurbergine.

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 Fruits

Major fruit export products   include avocadoes, mangoes, pineapples, passion fruits, bananas, and strawberry. According to EPC, fruit exports have been growing slowly but steadily.

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Herbs and Spices

Due to increased health awareness by consumers’ worldwide, consumption of herbs and spices has increased. Kenya has been exporting herbs and spices for decades and the demand for these products is bound to increase. The types of herbs exported from Kenya include lemon grass, basil, dill, sweet Marjaram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, chamomile, tarragon, etc. On the other hand, exports of spices include garlic, ginger, coriander, chillies, paprika, turmeric and cumin.