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Kenya eyes China, Middle East fruits, vegetables
market through local cooperatives

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya is to strengthen fruits, vegetables and flower growing cooperative societies to empower them to export directly to China and the Middle East, a government official told Xinhua in Nairobi on Tuesday.

“Cooperatives will enable us to create efficiency in supply. We want to empower these cooperatives to supply fruits and vegetables to supermarkets in China and the rest of the world,” said Zakayo Magara, managing director of Horticultural Crops Development, a state agency under Kenya’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA).

He said experience from Kenya’s direct exports to European Union countries shows that those farmers who sell directly to foreign buyers without going through brokers or auctions are earning double the price.

“This is the best option for the small-scale farmers as it offers a better price discovery,” said Magara. “We are turning our focus on supporting and marketing of fruits and vegetables by small-scale farmers to enable them benefit from emerging international markets of Asia and the Middle East.”

Among the fruit crops which have started being populated by the cooperative societies are avocados, which officials said is growing to become one of Kenya’s top exports.

“Recently we had a huge supply of avocados for export, resulting in congestion at the Port of Mombasa. This is a good sign that fruit growing by small-scale farmers is taking root,” said Magara.

“Kenya has a huge option on the types of fruits it can grow for export because of the different weather conditions across the country. We can also supply different fruits to the world market throughout the year,” he said.

Magara said rising interest in growing fruits and vegetables has created opportunities for the private sector to invest in cold rooms.

“We need to increase our cold rooms capacity in order to ensure that we adequately preserve the rising volume of fruits and vegetables. This is an area we would also want to see private local and international investors take interest in,” he added.

Export of fruits and vegetables earned Kenya about 90 million U.S. dollars and 240 million dollars respectively last year, according to a report released by Fresh Produce Consortium Kenya in April.



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