•Cabinet secretary Mithika Linturi says the horticulture industry has so far incurred losses of over Sh200 million.
•Government seeking alternatives to avert further losses.
The government is sourcing an alternative freight mode for fresh produce exports, agriculture CS Mithika Linturi has said.
This is in the wake of the Kenya Airways pilots' strike that has paralised flights, hitting exporters hard.
According to the CS, the horticulture sector has so far incurred losses of more than Sh200 million, hence the need to mitigate against the wrecking effects.
Linturi underscored the impact of the agricultural value chains on the economy.
The Economic Survey 2022 shows the value of horticulture exports increased from Sh150.2 billion in 2020, to Sh157.7 billion in 2021.
During the review period, horticultural output; key among them the cut flowers, benefitted from better export prices offered in the export market.
“The industry is still facing many challenges including the ongoing strike...My Ministry is, however, working on a temporary measure to avail special planes to avert further losses in the sector,” said Linturi.
The cabinet secretary spoke when he officiated over a consultative forum that brings together agricultural value chain actors, under the auspices of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) and Bureau Veritas.
He said the government has prioritised agriculture as one of the five pillars of the country’s economic recovery plan.
This, he noted, is because the sector has the potential to lower the cost of living, create jobs, improve incomes, enhance foreign exchange and promote industrialisation through agro-processing.
Agriculture remained the dorminant sector, accounting for about 22.4 per cent of the overall GDP in 2021.
“I appreciate the efforts by the agriculture stakeholders for championing the agricultural sector to achieve food security, food safety and sustainability," Linturi said.
He said in a bid to achieve transformation of the sector as envisioned in Kenya’s Vision 2030, the Kenya Kwanza administration was currently implementing the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS).
The plan, he said, is aimed at transforming the sector by involving modernisation of on-farm production and shifting production towards more value addition.
It also prioritises the need to improve farmers’ and local communities’ incomes, lower the cost of food and increase employment, with the potential to improve the lives of over 15 million Kenyans.