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Flower, fruit and vegetable producers and exporters seek government support to boost the sector

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Stakeholders in Kenya’s horticultural sector are seeking out incentives from government ahead of the fresh budgetary allocation for the 2018-2019 financial year in an effort aimed at driving even more growth for an already thriving industry.

The sector kept up an improved performance in 2017 to gross revenues totaling to Sh82 billion which places the sector only second to tea in agricultural exporting earnings for government.

According to 2017,2016 statistics by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), a total of 159,961 and 133,658 metric tonnes of cut-flowers valued at Sh82,249 and 70,829 million were exported in January – December 2017 and 2016 respectively, this represent an increment of 20 per cent and 16 percent in volume and value respectively.

A total of 56,945 metric tonnes of fruits valued at Sh9,009m were exported between January and December 2017while a total of 87,240 metric tonnes of vegetables valued at Sh24,065m were exported in 2017 compared to 78,790 metric tonnes valued at Sh23,367m the previous year. This represents an increase of 11 per cent in the quantities sold and three per cent in value.

To keep up the impressive performance in 2018, industry players have identified the need for impetus including incentives on taxation, farming implements and supportive infrastructure.

Speaking during the opening of the 2018 International Flower Trade Expo (IFTEX), Kenya Flower Council (KFC) chief executive officer Clement Tulezi said the provision of tax reliefs and government support would maintain the growth curve in the sector.

“Taxation has been an area pushing us back. The proposed changes will for example eat into our profits rendering our products uncompetitive in the international market. We also want investments into reliable energy sources and general infrastructure,” Mr Tulezi said.

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Government is on the other hand seeking to expand the industry’s access to the international market in a bid to capitalize on the position of Kenya’s horticulture and fresh produce sector in the globe.

The country’s reputation as a consistent producer of cut flowers, fruits and vegetables for the export markets has remained on a pedestal with the flower section for instance being only second to the Netherlands in revenue earnings.

Stakeholders in the industry however identify the need to further build on this position by seeking new markets for the sector.

International Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said the government is looking to further broaden the horticultural base by reaching out to more markets.

“We are looking to broaden the export base by bringing in more products for export. Of the Sh600 billion goods we exported, seventy percent went only to thirteen markets. We want to take advantage of the markets that we have while reaching out to more markets,” Mr Kiptoo said.

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The European Union (EU) has remained as the principal destination for the country’s horticultural produce with the market taking in 20 percent of the all exports from the country.

However, with the market witnessing a number of shake-ups in recent years including Brexit, the government has been keen to source for new markets to mitigate potential losses that may accrue from the changes.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) remains as a viable outlet for Kenyan exports to the United States market even as the government continues to explore fresh markets.

Horticultural industry stakeholders are in the meantime pursuing opportunities presented by the expected direct flights to the US to further build on their hold of the American market.

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