Export of fresh produce drops further

Re-introduction of cargo flights by Kenya Airways has been welcomed

In Summary

•Exports have dropped by 70 percent

•Many EU countries are affected by the pandemic which has reduced their imports   

Fresh produce for export/
Fresh produce for export/
Image: FILE

The country’s fresh produce exports have continued to drop sharply due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has left various sectors on its knees.

Exports have dropped by 70 per cent, sector players say, even as they welcome the move by Kenya Airways to reintroduce cargo flights.

According to Edward Mureu, the proprietor of Naivasha based Rubi ranch, exports of fresh produce had dropped sharply due to the current pandemic, where getting cargo flights has been a major challenge.

“The export of fresh produce has dropped by around 70 per cent and this is due to a drop in demand in Europe due to the lockdown and high flight charges,” he said.

KQ  is however said to be expensive compared to competitors, a move that could affect exports.

“Kenya Airways is charging three dollars per kilo unlike the competitors like Ethiopian and Qatar airways who are charging two dollars,” he said.

Speaking after touring his farm, Mureu noted that the high flight charges were affecting the prices of their produce in the market, forcing consumers to shun them.

He said consumers in Europe are opting for cheaper products from other countries a move that has spelled doom for local farmers.

“Due to the high flight charges, we have been forced to increase the prices of our products and this is working against us in the market as consumers seek cheaper products,” he said.

Mureu has accused the government of failing to support farmers who remain critical to the economy.

“Currently the prices of diesel and electricity are very high and the only way the government can support this sector is through subsidies,” he said.

Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) CEO Wesley Siele noted that the drop in exports had been further hurt by the limited movement of consumers in Europe.

Supermarkets mainly in the UK, Sweden and Russia are placing orders for fresh produce from the country, Siele said, but shipment remains a challenge.

“People have to eat despite the pandemic and though the exports have dropped to 70 percent, the fresh produce exporters are doing better unlike the flower farmers,” he said.