Kenya eyes new horticulture market in Qatar

Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi, Qatar Ambassador Boniface Mwilu and HE Mohamed Bin Twar Al Kuwari First Vice Chair Qatar chamber of commerce during the official opening of the Doha International Horticulture Expo at Al Bida Park in Doha. [Courtesy]

Kenyan may soon start the exportation of horticulture products to Qatar in a bid to increase earnings for the country.

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said the government is seeking to unlock new trade opportunities in Qatar.

He said Kenya has not exploited the trade opportunities available in the West Asian nation which is a potential market for Kenyan horticulture exports.

Linturi assured Kenyan horticultural sector players that his ministry is keen to help entrepreneurs expand their export markets in the Asian market, especially in Qatar.

Linturi said his Ministry is determined to improve Kenya’s horticulture export earnings.

“In line with President William Ruto’s Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (Beta), we are seeking to create new market opportunities for our farmers. We must invest in agriculture because it’s key to Kenya's economy,” said Linturi.

He was speaking in Doha during the International Horticultural Expo 2023.

According to the Centre for Africa Bio-Entrepreneurship, the horticultural sector contributes up to 33 per cent of Kenya's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), accounting for 40 per cent of employment, especially in the rural sector.

The international horticulture-themed “Green Desert, Better Environment” is the first horticulture Expo in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The CS also engaged in a bilateral meeting with investors from Qatar who are keen to invest in Kenya’s horticultural sector.

"We want investors from Qatar to take advantage of the opportunities available in the Kenyan horticultural sector to boost sales of perishable goods into the Qatar market," CS Linturi said.

CS Linturi appealed to the Qatar government to lift the ban on the import of livestock and meat products from Kenya to boost the local meat industry.

In October 2021, Middle Eastern countries lifted a ban on Kenya’s meat following the containment of the Rift Valley Fever disease that led to restrictions. However, Qatar has yet to lift the ban.

Kenyan Ambassador to Qatar Boniface Nduva Mwilu appealed to Kenyan entrepreneurs to explore the trade opportunities in Qatar to boost Kenya’s export earnings.

“There exists enormous trade opportunities in Qatar especially for horticulture products because of the harsh climatic conditions in Asia which doesn’t support the horticultural sector,” said Mwilu.

Horticulture earnings grew by 6.4 per cent to Sh8.7 billion in the 11 months to November compared to the corresponding period last year, attributed to higher demand for Kenyan produce in the world market.

Currently, a majority of fresh produce exports from Kenya are sold in the European Union, United States and Middle East markets.

This Doha Expo was officially launched on Monday at the all-green Al Bidda Park in Doha and is expected to run for six months until March 2024.

Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani inaugurated the event alongside a number of global leaders and top world diplomats.