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Fresh produce exports dip 46pc on European markets lockdown

BUSINESS
By Antony Gitonga | March 22nd 2020

The country’s fresh produce export market has dropped by 46 per cent following the lockdown in some European markets. This is more countries rush to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The Agricultural Employers Association has attributed the drop to the limited movement of customers in Europe.

However, unlike flower farmers who have completely stopped shipping their produce due to the collapse of the Dutch auction, the demand for French beans and avocado remains high among the affected European countries.

According to the association CEO Wesley Siele, the fresh produce sector was stable, unlike the floriculture that faces one of its darkest moments.

Mr Siele observed that supermarkets - mainly in the UK, Sweden and Russia were still ordering the fresh produce from Kenya. “People have to eat despite the pandemic and though the exports have dropped by 46 per cent the fresh produce exporters are doing better unlike the flower farmers,” he said.

He said the lockdown had limited consumer movement leading to the cancellation of fresh produce orders. “We, however, expect the demand for the fresh produce like vegetables and fruits to stabilise in the coming days as the affected countries contain the pandemic,” he said.

Siele regretted the collapse of the Dutch auction, a key market for Kenyan flowers. “The information we are getting is that only flowers meant for supermarkets are being shipped out while exports to Holland have been suspended,” he said.

Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union Secretary-General David Omulama said flowers farms have sent home a third of their workforce, warning of more job cuts if the situation in Europe doesn't change.

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