A worker tends to flowers during a sorting process at a flower farm in Nakuru, Kenya, Dec. 27, 2018. (Xinhua/Sheikh Maina)
Kenya’s horticulture sector lost 30.5 million U.S. dollars due to COVID-19 related disruptions including cancellation of international flights, officials said.
NAIROBI, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) — Kenya’s horticulture sector lost 3.3 billion shillings (about 30.5 million U.S. dollars) due to COVID-19 related disruptions including cancellation of international flights, officials said on Thursday.
Jas Bedi, chairman of Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency, said that suspension of international flights led to the loss of revenue that could have been accrued from the export of fresh produce overseas.
“The horticulture lost about 3.3 billion shillings in the early stages of COVID-19 pandemic when border closures and suspension of international flights reduced the volume of exports,” Bedi said at a virtual briefing in Nairobi.
He said that Kenya’s horticulture sector was hit hard but it is in a recovery path amid the resumption of international flights and favorable weather.
“The horticulture sector is expected to flourish thanks to a spike in orders overseas. We are slowly overcoming shocks linked to COVID-19,” said Bedi.
Kenya exports up to 90 percent of its flowers to European countries, a market that has been disrupted by anti-COVID-19 containment measures like suspension of passenger and cargo flights alongside closure of flower sale outlets.
Workers work in a processing workshop at a flower farm near Lake Naivasha, in Naivasha, Kenya, on Oct. 22, 2018. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)
He urged players in the local horticulture sector to adopt technology and explore new markets in order to remain afloat amid shocks like pandemics and climate change-related disasters.
“We need to use technology to connect with the markets, and this is the new culture of doing business and we have no option but to adapt,” said Bedi.
He said that Kenyan horticultural farmers can leverage digital platforms to boost exports abroad and cut off exploitative middlemen.
Bedi said the government has supported the development of an online portal where farmers can access real-time information about new markets for horticultural produce.
He said that implementation of a horticulture sector recovery has gained steam to boost exports to emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Bedi said that improved agronomic practices combined with proper handling and storage are key to boosting the competitiveness of Kenyan horticultural produce in foreign markets. ■