Pineapple farmers can earn up to 15 times more by exporting their produce to Israel rather than selling to local markets.
A medium sized pineapple in Israel costs Sh955 compared to Sh60 in Kenya according to freshplaza.com. Israel has only 30 growers of the fruit producing 3000 tons yet the local consumption is estimated at 3500 tonnes. The desert country thus imports 450 tons annually to curb the deficit.
Kenya accounts for 30 per cent in export volumes in Africa of canned pineapples according to a report by Samuel Ndung’u submitted to the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation in 2014.
In Africa, only Ghana and Kenya are allowed to export pineapples to Israel as they have complied with the food safety regulations set by the country’s ministry of agriculture. These include supplying the fruits free from pests and diseases.
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The total production of pineapples in Kenya is approximated to be in excess of 1.5m tons annually with small scale farmers accounting for 10 per cent of the total production and large scale farms 90 per cent. Out of large scale farms, Delmonte contributes the biggest share of close to 1.3m tons while Kakuzi and Ndemo farms contribute each 7,000 tons and 16,000 tons respectively. The major markets of Kenyan pineapples include France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark.
Small scale pineapple production in Kenya takes place in the Lake basin region (Homa Bay, Kericho, Migori, and Kisii areas), the Central region (Gatundu and Thika) and the Coast region (Malindi region).
Smooth cayenne pineapple variety is the most planted variety in the country (80 per cent) followed by MD2 and sweet 16.
According to healthline.com, pineapples are rich in vitamin C and manganese essential for growth and development and are also a good source of anti-oxidants which may reduce the risk of diseases such as heart attack, arthritis and diabetes.