•It will also increase the global exports to $1.3 billion (Sh146 billion) from the current $416 million (Sh46.7 billion) for vegetables.
•Despite the potential, the regional sector’s production is fragmented, smallholder-dominated, and with low yield and productivity.
The East African Community secretariat has developed a comprehensive strategy and action plan 2021-2031 to boost the value of intra-trade of fruits and vegetables to $25 million (Sh2.8 billion) by 2031.
The strategy is geared to boost the EAC bloc global exports of vegetables to $950million and fruits to $350million by 2031, from the current $416 million and $125 million respectively.
“The intra-EAC trade of fruits and vegetables is currently at 9.9 million. We urge more investments in the nutritional and medicinal indigenous fruits and vegetable sector,” Deputy Secretary-General of EAC, Christophe Bazivamo said.
The strategy aims to improve production capacity, strengthen research and development, innovation, packaging, market access and trade facilitation, quality infrastructure, skills, policy coordination, and framework.
The executive director, East Africa Business Council, John Kalisa said the his sector contributes between 20 per cent and 36 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product of EAC economies.
He urged partner states to liberalize air cargo flights in the EAC to enhance the consolidation of horticulture exports.
“EABC is committed to hosting and supporting the EAC fruits and vegetable platform on policy advocacy components such as address Non-Tariff Barriers and regulations and costs that reduce the export competitiveness fruits and vegetable sector in the region,” Kalisa said.
The action plan formulation has been supported by German development agency- GIZ.
Despite the potential, the regional sector’s production is fragmented, smallholder-dominated, and with low yield and productivity, GIZ notes.
Other challenges include climate change variability, diseases and pests, supply chain seasonality and limited business development services.
Limited quality infrastructure, limited processing technologies for value addition, high post-harvest losses, and underdeveloped logistical infrastructure are also hindering the sectors' growth.