News and knowhow for farmers

Green banana and broccoli market opens up for Kenyan farmers in South Korea

green bananas
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Kenyan farmers, as well as horticulture exporters dealing in green bananas and broccoli, have a new market for selling their products; South Korea, following clearance from the country’s Animal and Quarantine Agency.

“The purpose of this announcement is to bring this information to your attention and request your assistance in contacting farmers and exporters of the above products so that they can advantage of this opportunity,” said Dr Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary State Department of Trade in a media statement issued two weeks ago.

The East Asian country is largely an importer of foods in order to meet her consumption needs. South Korea imports 70 per cent of its food and in 2017, bananas were the most imported product in the country recording 834,000 tons, worth $1.24bn, according to statistics released in September this year by the South Korea Customs Service.

The largest fruit exporter to South Korea, accounting for 38.3 per cent of the total fruit imports was the United States of America. It was followed by the Philippines with 28.6 per cent, of fruits exports, Chile accounted for 11.6 per cent and New Zealand with 5.1 per cent.

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Green bananas.

Kenya produces an estimated 1.4m tonnes of bananas annually.

The Leading producers are: Meru (19 per cent), Embu (12 per cent), Taita Taveta (nine per cent), Murang’a (seven per cent), Kisii and Nyamira (six per cent), Tharaka Nithi (six per cent) and Bungoma (five per cent).

86 per cent of the total bananas produced are sold commercially with the rest being consumed directly according to USAID.  

Farmers in these regions are taking the opportunity to improve their products to meet international standards.

“It is an encouraging move that will allow farmers’ access to new markets and especially given that we produce some the best green and ripe bananas globally. Most of the farmers in Nyamira County sell locally to areas such as Nakuru, Mombasa and Kisumu but in the total of 410 farmers in our farmers’ group, I am certain that 100 of them are in large-scale banana production and can meet the new international demand,” said Milton Ongeri, Chairman of Kilimo Bora Public Private Partnership.

Kilimo Bora Public-Private Partnerships is a WhatsApp group  with mostly Nyamira County members who include; farmers, agronomists, buyers and sellers of agriculture produce. The group connects farmers to local markets and traders.

Mr Ongeri notes that most of the farmers do not meet international standards due to the quality of their produce.

“Some of the problems that farmers face are; low production levels as well as low-quality crops that have affected market demands. This is due to pest infestation and diseases but we are taking measures such as purchasing the right pesticides to ensure that the crops are healthy,” said Ongeri.

Also, following the South Korea announcement, the group has taken the initiative of mentoring and educating their members so that they can better understand the certifications required in order to trade in the international markets.

To produce for the international market, particular horticultural practices must be followed. For starters there are some documents exporters of any produce must have. These include an Export License from the Horticultural Crops Development Authority HCDA, a GlobalGAP certification and a Phytosanitary and conformity certificates from KEPHIS that is handed as a confirmation that all the plant and plant products exported are in accordance with the requirement of the importing country.

For broccoli exportation, the Kenya Horticulture Exporters (KHE) is one of the biggest exporters of the crop to international markets. In fact, the organization transports at least 22 tonnes a day of fresh produce from raspberries to tender stem broccoli through IAG Cargo, the cargo handling division of International Airlines Group and annually it exports  7500 tonnes of perishables via IAG Cargo.

Broccoli producing areas in Kenya areas include; Nairobi, Laikipia, Kiambu, Muranga, Makueni and part of Rift Valley among others. It is best grown in areas with a lot of sunlight and fertile as well as acidic soils.

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