Exporting Kenya's Horticultural Products: Challenges and Opportunities in The 21st Century
The horticultural export sector has experienced rapid growth since 1966 because of the active role by the private sector and minimum government intervention. The European Union is the largest consumer of Kenyan horticultural exports. Kenyan horticultural exports to the European Union accounted for 45 percent of the total exports in 2000. In recent years, horticultural export growth has declined. The quality of production has declined, following a reduction of the role of exporters in supporting production by small-scale farmers. This has reduced Kenyas competitiveness in the horticultural export market at time when the sector is faced with increased competition from other producer countries. The reform of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and other emerging issues in the on-going negotiations on the Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) present other pertinent issues as concerns expanded export horticulture. This paper, firstly, reviews the performance of the export horticulture over the last four decades, it delineates challenges facing export horticulture, it highlights opportunities available for expanded export horticulture and suggests measures for revitalizing the sub-sector. It concludes that, competition for the EU market will continue to intensify as the world opens up due to globalization. This calls for proper understanding of the existing and emerging threats to the Kenyan export horticulture. This will guide the development of both defensive and offensive strategies for not only survival in the EU market, but also venturing in non-traditional horticultural export markets. Such strategies would include (i) Education of producers to understand the EU import requirements which encompass both tariff and non-tariff measures, (ii) penetration of new markets in Asia, USA, and Africa,(iii) encouragement of organic farming where necessary, and (iv) creating an enabling environment for small scale farmers to access credit.
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