In 2023, The Netherlands maintained its position as the primary purchaser of Kenya’s horticultural produce, contributing to over a quarter of the total value during the period under review.

Data released by the horticulture directorate revealed that Dutch imports accounted for a substantial Ksh42.6 billion out of the overall Ksh156.7 billion generated last year.

This surge in trade bolstered the aggregate exports to Europe, which, in turn, comprised 51 percent of the nation’s total earnings during the specified period.

Notably, The Netherlands, renowned for hosting the world’s largest flower auction, witnessed significant quantities of roses being exported to the Dutch city, serving as a hub for subsequent re-exports to other markets within the European Union business bloc.

The horticulture sector, primarily dominated by flower exports, constituted a significant 70 percent of the total earnings in the review period.

The 2023 performance marked a notable improvement from the previous year, where the country recorded earnings of Ksh147 billion.

Industry stakeholders attribute this positive trend to the emergence of new markets and a commitment to compliance with international standards, resulting in lower interception levels in the global market.

Ojepat Okisegere, the CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK), highlighted the impact of new markets and the importance that they have in Kenya’s horticulture sector.

“We have seen new markets coming up, and some of them, which have not traditionally been our buyers, are now procuring more produce from Kenya,” he said.

During a media workshop organised by TradeMark Africa and FPCK in Naivasha, Mr Okisegere highlighted the pivotal roles played by China, India, and Kazakhstan as emerging markets in boosting Kenya’s horticultural earnings.

India and China, in particular, have become key destinations for Kenya’s avocado exports, with the Chinese market opening in 2021 and the Indian market in the preceding year.

Despite these successes, Kenya faces challenges in its avocado exports to India, grappling with a substantial 30 percent duty.

This duty poses a competitiveness issue, especially when compared to other nations like Tanzania, which enjoys duty and quota-free access to the Indian market.

gandae@businessdayafrica.org