Kenya's US$110M fruit industry unaffected by drought
Kenya’s drought has not yet affected the country’s US$110 million fruit export industry, but high temperatures have pushed up production costs, according to Fresh Produce Exporters Association Kenya (FPEAK) CEO Dr. Stephen Mbithi.
Mbithi said the drought was not looking as bad as in 2009 but was still in the early stages. However, higher irrigation costs have pushed up prices by 10%.
“The drought is at the beginning stage and it is not yet a crisis. We have not had rain in four weeks but there is still water in the rivers and irrigation is not a problem, and the dams still have water,” he told FreshFruitPortal.com.
“The problem is the high temperatures – it’s too hot because farms that are used to 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) conditions are recording temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), which means increased use of water, and this affects the production costs of horticulture.
“We have not seen a decrease in volumes of produce but there has been an increase in the farm gate price, by about 10% compared to two weeks ago.”
He said Kenya’s horticultural production volumes in 2010 were 350,000 metric tonnes (MT) with a value of US$1 billion, of which US$450 million was flowers and $550 million was fruit and vegetables.
“On average fruit is about 20% of the total fruit and vegetables exports, so that’s about $110 million.”
Kenya’s three main fruit exports are avocados, mangoes and passionfruit, with a large consumer market in Europe, particularly in France.
Mbithi said if the drought continued for another month, there would be concerns and policies such as water rationing from dams and lakes would likely be enacted.
Photo: Flickr, Jaanus Silla