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Horticulture vulnerable to extraneous events

28 January 2010

Cold weather in Europe is adversely affecting Kenyan exports of both horticultural and floricultural products, with the bad weather disrupting both air freight and road transport delivery. This comes in a context where the winter season ‘is usually the [Kenyan] industry’s peak season accounting for 65% of all the fruits and vegetables exported to Europe’. Similar difficulties are reported for cut-flower exports, with weather conditions having ‘seriously reduced the number of “occasional buyers” who are demanding flowers for activities such as weddings, funerals and other outdoor decorations’.

The Fruit and Vegetable Producers’ Association in Morocco, meanwhile, is reported to be ready to supply export produce to replace Spain’s fall in production of citrus and other fruits that will result from the cold weather. Spain’s production is expected to drop by 6% to 7% for clementines, and by 15% for oranges, and Morocco is counting on a rise in exports to Europe in the first quarter of 2010 to 300,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables, representing 50% of its usual annual exports to the European markets. The Moroccan minister for agriculture has reported that the country is expecting production for the current season to reach 1.41m tonnes, 10% up on last season. Total exports are expected to be 7% up on the previous year.

Editorial comment

The weather-related disruptions highlight on the one hand the vulnerability of African horticultural exports to transport-related disruptions which are beyond the control of local industry players, and on the other hand the preparedness of some countries and economies to step in and fill the gap in times of crisis. Given EU domestic concerns to ensure that market crises do not undermine the domestic production base, questions could reasonably be asked about what domestic policy measures exporters like Kenya might reasonably put in place to mitigate the adverse effects of periodic market crisis on their own domestic production base.


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