The government has earned Sh11 billion from horticulture exports in the last year. Agriculture minister Dr Sally Kosgey said the horticulture sector contributed 11 per cent of the GDP last year and that the government is planning to introduce new measures to boost the sector. He said a new legal framework has been developed to ensure effective operations of the Horticultural Crops Development Authority. "This is an important sector in which we need to invest more," Kosgey said.
The minister was speaking when she met with stakeholders in the horticultural sector at the Eldoret International Airport. Kosgey regretted that the Eldoret Airport is still underutilised yet it is located in a rich agricultural area. "Our farmers need to diversify their activities and venture into horticultural farming instead of relying on maize and wheat where earnings are low," she said. She said it is not good to have planes which land at the Eldoret Airport leave without cargo for export.
The minister said earnings from horticulture was 11 per cent of the 25 per cent contributed by agriculture to the GDP. She said the government would start a fresh initiative to market the Eldoret International Airport which remains underutilized since it was put up more than a decade ago. Kenya Airways has confirmed that it will introduce a new passenger flight to the airport which has recorded a more than 20 per cent increase in the number of passengers using the facility within the last one year. The airport is however still operating below capacity in cargo handling with only three flights per week.
Eldoret Airport Manager Peter Wafula said the airport provided good opportunities for farmers to exploit by investing in the exports sector. He said Kenya Airways will have two passenger flights to Eldoret starting July 1 and this would bring to three the number of airlines operating at the airport which has been handling four passenger flights every day. "We are now recording 95 per cent sales on our passenger flights and that is why there is room for improvement. Last year we were doing 70 per cent sales", said Wafula.
The airport has the capacity to earn the economy in the region more than Sh30 billion every year but currently it earns less than Sh200 million from both exports and imports. "We are projecting to record more than 15 per cent growth by the end of next year because we have put in place measures to make sure the airport is more active in both exports and imports", said Wafula. Dr Kosgey said the government would continuously review legal frameworks in the agricultural sector to improve performance in all areas.