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Kenya's drought could affect vegetable exports, says industryFriday, June 23, 2017 > 09:48:46
The drought that was experienced in Kenya early this year could affect overall vegetable exports in 2017, the industry said on Wednesday.
"Unless the country experiences sufficient rains in October, vegetables exports could decline by five percent," Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) Chairman Apollo Owuor told a business forum in Nairobi
In 2016, Kenya exported 56,695 tonnes of vegetables, Owour said during a horticultural industry meeting.
Owour said that Kenya vegetable output could recover because most vegetables have a maturity period of only three months.
He said that the sector is normally affected by drought conditions which occur every two to three years.
The most common vegetables exported are beans which accounts for 60 percent, followed by avocados which contribute 15 percent of international sales.
Other key vegetables exports were herbs and spices where Kenya's sales overseas hit 2500 tonnes in 2016.
The Chairman said that approximately 60,000 acres of land is set aside for cultivation of beans for export and another 2,000 acres are dedicated for avocados for exports.
According to the trade body, Kenya's avocados attract less earnings in international markets due to inconsistent quality.
"Most of the avocados are planted by smallholder farmers who are unable to maintain high standards demanded by international buyers," Owour said.
Owuor said that the European Union absorbs approximately 80 percent of Kenya's vegetable exports, while Middle East accounts for the rest.
He said most of sales are in the Britain as hence the industry is vulnerable to fluctuations of the British Pound.