Direct flights to Israel boost horticulture exports

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023 07:40 | By
FILE PHOTO: The Israeli flag carrier El Al's airliner carrying Israeli and U.S. delegates lands at Abu Dhabi International Airport, United Arab Emirates August 31, 2020. WAM/Handout via REUTERS

EXPORTS:  Kenya is targeting to grow export earnings by increasing the volume of horticulture and other agricultural products to Israel, banking on the recently launched direct flight between the two countries.

Speaking yesterday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) when he flagged off a direct flight to Tel Aviv-Israel, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said the deal is part of Kenya’s strategy to diversify horticulture export market which is currently in favour of the European Union (EU).

The CS said within the agricultural sector, horticulture products have been identified as crucial commodities that would immensely contribute to growing export earnings.

Linturi said that the direct flight from Nairobi to Tel Aviv was formally announced by President William Ruto at the Israel Investor Roundtable Forum in Tel Aviv on the 10th of May 2023. “This endeavour will facilitate the efficient transportation of goods and enhance trade opportunities between Kenya and Israel, benefiting our respective economies and fostering mutually beneficial partnerships,” said Linturi.

Key export earner

The horticulture sub-sector is the fastest-growing industry and continues to register an annual growth rate of approximately 15 per cent.

The sub-sector is a key income earner and contributes to foreign exchange to the tune of about Sh146.1 billion annually. The major crop category contributing to this is flowers Sh103.6 billion, vegetables and fruits Sh19.6 billion and 18.3 billion respectively. The total volume exported was 392,000 metric tonnes with flowers leading at 198, 700 metric tonnes, followed by fruits at 130,500 metric tonnes.

Linturi urged stakeholders, actors and growers to take advantage of high demands for medicinal and aromatic plants both in the country and for export, to increase production.

The CS added that currently, a coordination mechanism for the horticultural industry is in place, drawing members from public, private and non-state actors. It is expected that policy changes while reviewing the horticulture policy will legalize the coordination mechanism within the sub sector.

Linturi highlighted that the development and review of the horticultural policy instruments supporting the sub sector, including the National phytosanitary policy and review of National Horticulture Regulation 2020 are at an advanced stage.

“Other interventions include creation of pest-free areas by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in conjunction with counties and other stakeholders that has led to the opening of export markets of some crops,” said Linturi.

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