Kenya eyes coast region to boost growth of horticulture industry
Kenya has identified the coast region as the next frontier for the growth of the horticulture industry amid favorable weather and development of modern infrastructure projects like ports and railways, officials said on Tuesday.
Benjamin Tito, director of Horticultural Crops Directorate said that converting the coast region into a hub for the cultivation of fresh produce including fruits and vegetables is in the works to boost foreign exchange earnings.
"The coast region has favorable weather for growing fruits and vegetables to help meet local demand and overseas markets," Tito said during a stakeholders' workshop in the coastal city of Mombasa.
He said the government has enacted friendly regulations and policies to stimulate private sector investments in the horticulture sector as a means to boost food security and revenue to the exchequer.
And an upgraded port of Mombasa, the launch of Lamu port and standard gauge railway will facilitate seamless transportation of fresh produce from the coast region to the hinterland for value addition.
Theophilus Mutui, managing director of Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) said that the establishment of a vibrant regulatory system will ensure that fresh produce grown in the coast region is devoid of toxins.
Okisegere Ojepat, CEO, Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) said the coast region is ideal for large-scale cultivation of pineapples, mangoes, chilies, bananas and passion fruits for local consumption and export.
He said identifying new geographical locations for growing horticultural crops will enable Kenya to meet rising demand in Europe and Asia.
According to Ojepat, Kenya's vegetable exports hit 24 billion shillings (about 223 million U.S. dollars) in 2020 compared to 232 million dollars in 2019 amid disruptions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.