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Extension services key to boosting horticulture gains

In Summary

• Last year, Kenya earned Sh153.68 billion from horticulture exports, 33 per cent higher than Sh115.32 billion recorded in 2017

• Horticulture requires specialised extension services, but there are currently inadequate systems to offer timely advice to producers and other stakeholders

Joseph Mulu harvest tomatoes from his green house in Yatta District. Local residence have embraced small scale horticulture as a means to enhance production and food security.
Joseph Mulu harvest tomatoes from his green house in Yatta District. Local residence have embraced small scale horticulture as a means to enhance production and food security.
Image: FILE

The Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya seeks to have extension services reintroduce to boost production.

It said it would work with the government and key industry players  and will mainly  target  smallholder farmers

According to FCP, government extension services collapsed and remain largely inefficient at the county level.

“Horticulture requires specialised extension services, but there are currently inadequate systems to offer timely advice to producers and other stakeholders,” FCP chief executive Ojepat Okisegere said.

The consortium of producers, traders and service providers for Kenya’s fresh horticultural produce yesterday launched its first strategic plan for the 2019-2024 period, aimed at increasing the sector’s contribution to Kenya’s GDP.

Last year, Kenya earned Sh153.68 billion from horticulture exports, 33 per cent higher than Sh115.32 billion recorded in 2017.

Revenue from the three export commodities increased 42.55 per cent to Sh12.68 billion for fruits, 37.8 per cent to Sh113.16 billion for cut flowers while earnings from vegetables jumped 15.05 per cent to Sh27.68 billion.

Since 2013, the sector has been on an upward trend, jumping 84.27 per cent from Sh83.4 billion in revenue to make horticulture the country’s third largest revenue earner after diaspora inflows at Sh272 billion and tourism at Sh157 billion.

In a statement, FCP said other challenges facing SMEs involved in the horticulture business were access to credit and low adoption of technology and innovation, which have led to low agricultural productivity due to use of poor varieties and production technologies.

Okisegere encouraged smallholder fresh produce farmers to incorporate sub-contracting relations with more successful local trading companies, working together as clusters or becoming part of production and marketing consortium.

“To secure acceptable levels of quality for exportation, I urge fresh produce exporters across the country to join associations where they can get information about existing opportunities on agribusiness, jointly advocate for favourable policies and conform to international standards of quality,” KNCCI-Nairobi chapter chairman Richard Ngatia said during the launch.

Fresh produce exporters were also encouraged to tap into the global shift towards consumption of healthy, nutritional, clean, green and ethically produced products, especially in developed countries.

“There is room for further growth - especially if we can push our fresh produce to more international markets. This can be achieved through trade fairs, missions and exhibitions to markets such as China which have not been fully exploited,” Ngatia said.