NAIROBI, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's fresh produce farmers on Wednesday called on the government to provide a conducive business environment to help make the horticultural sector competitive.
The Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya CEO Okisegere Ojepat said the sector has faced stringent and lengthy clearance processes, multiple taxations and levies, high energy costs, and trade restrictions, which has made Kenyan horticultural products less competitive in the regional and international markets.
"The sector has been adversely hit by the imposition of the 16 percent VAT on pest control products, among other unfavorable conditions, which has made our products more expensive even in the east African region," Ojepat said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
"We are lamenting about cheap imports from the neighboring countries like Uganda but we are not asking ourselves how Ugandans are able to produce these goods cheaply," Ojepat said during the launch of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya 2019-2024 Strategic Plan in Nairobi.
He said the six-year Strategic Plan would address several other issues affecting the horticultural sector including product safety issues and coalition building to ensure that various organizations work towards a common goal.
The consortium has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with several organizations including the Nairobi chapter of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and International Trade Centre through SheTrades to help it address the issues related to trade in horticultural products, both locally and internationally.
Ojepat said the consortium is keen to have matters that hinder trade in the horticultural sector addressed urgently.
"We are keen on ensuring there is market access to products and also that the final products traded locally and globally meet the safety standard," he said.
Kenya's earnings from fresh produce exports in 2018 jumped to 153.68 billion shillings (1.53 billion U.S. dollars), a 33 percent increase over 2017 earnings, according to statistics from the industry.