How To Produce Fruits And Vegetables For Export Market For Extra Profit

How is the country’s fruits and vegetables sector fairing?
The demand for Kenya avocado, macadamia, passion fruits and a range of vegetables in the international market is on a promising rise. As such, fruit and vegetable farming presents a good opportunity not only for farmers but also for exporters and other people in the value chain to reap from farming.
For the Kenyan farmers, both domestic and export markets have their own unique advantages but the common thing is that they are undersupplied. In fact, the main limiting factor to farmers accessing these markets is their ability to produce sufficient quantities.
What challenges are farmers in Kenya experiencing?
There are a number of challenges that face farmers in the horticulture sub-sector which include:
1) Low incentives in terms of local market prices.
2) High costs of inputs that include seeds, fertiliser, pesticides.
3) Stringent international standards and market requirements, which are a barrier to accessing the export market. A good example are the conditions put forth by China for Kenyan avocado.
4) Post-harvest losses and lack of quality to improve consumer acceptance.
5) Low availability of capital and limited access to affordable credit for horticultural
farmers.
6) Climate change, mainly unpredictable weather, and presence of pests and diseases. Kenya currently cannot export avocados to South Africa and some European destinations until we demonstrate that we can properly manage the fruit fly and false codling moth. Until we find ways of managing the citrus greening disease in oranges and the woodiness disease in purple passion fruits, the markets for these fruits will remain unexploited.
7) Low adoption of modern farming and processing technologies by Kenyan farmers.
8) Poor infrastructure: Inadequate storage, lack of pack house facilities and refrigerated trucks constrain marketability of horticultural products.
How can these challenges be addressed?
There is need to enhance training on production of fruits and vegetables as well as compliance to market requirements. The stakeholders in the avocado and macadamia production value chains are doing a good job in this. Farmers should ensure they attend their trainings and implement what they learn. Richfarm Kenya always updates these events in their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Richfarmkenya/. You can follow the page to receive regular updates. 
Further, we need to invest more resources in research for the purpose of developing varieties that are more productive, resistant or less susceptible to pests and diseases. While this sounds mainly as the responsibility of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, farmers have a responsibility to investigate which varieties of the crops they produce are better for their environment. We have made some efforts to put this into with these articles:
Are Kenyan farmers exporting more fresh produce abroad?
Domestic consumption of fresh produce is still high and currently stands at about 95 per cent of total production.
However, export market is currently growing and the major markets are in the Euro-zone.
To improve margins, Kenya has focused on diversifying to other non-traditional export markets such as the United Arab Emirates, Middle East, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The main products to the European Union are French beans, snow peas and sugar snaps, broccoli, herbs, and spices and avocados, among others. Kenya exports vegetables, herbs and spices, avocados and mangoes to the Middle East market.
How Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) is helping the small farmer to export fresh produce
Small-scale farmers were hit by the European Union’s stringent food safety issues arising from high agrochemical residue levels.
The tough measures, combined with rising cost of production, knocked-out some farmers from growing the vegetables for export, leading to drop in the amount of vegetable exports.
At FPEAK, we link smallholder farmers to our members who buy from them, pack and export to various destinations.
We also advice the farmers on the specific crops that they need to grow for the export market.
How the concept of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) works and how farmers can satisfy what Kenya-GAP requires?
Kenya-GAP takes into consideration the internationally accepted practices in growing fresh produce that will result in food that is safe to eat for the consumer, while ensuring conservation of the environment as well as the health and safety of those doing the production.
This focuses on best practices with regard to the use of pesticides and fertiliser, employee welfare and farm management, among others.
We now have a national standard KS 1758 part II on fruits and vegetables that clearly stipulate the compliance criteria that needs to be adhered to by any grower in Kenya for both local and export market.
This standard will be enforced from mid-2018.
What kind of vegetables and fruits would you advise farmers to grow to access the export market?
Vegetables: French beans, snow peas, broccoli, courgettes, carrots, garden peas, salad onions, leeks and cucumber.
Fruits: Avocados, passion fruits, mangoes, pawpaw, oranges, strawberry and apples.
Herbs and spices: Basil, coriander, thyme, parsley, mint and chives.

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