Although the skies of Europe, prime destination of Kenya’s vegetables and fruits, is gradually opening up, weather challenges now threaten the country’s ability to satisfy demand that is now picking up.
Also working against Kenya’s fresh produce exports is an outbreak of diseases, all disrupting output from the farms. The expected slowdown in volumes of fresh produce in the month of June is happening as more international airlines resume flights into Nairobi.
With travel restrictions easing off in Europe, Kenya’s key markets for vegetables, fruits and flowers, orders have been rising steadily.
British Airways and Singapore Airlines are on the list of latest airlines to resume cargo flights into Nairobi. Other aviation companies that are also plying the Nairobi cargo route include Ethiopian Airlines, which has increased its flight frequencies daily from JKIA.
The Dutch KLM does flights three times a week with KQ also making a couple of trips to Europe and China.
Freighters are at the moment charging between $2.8 and $3.5 per kilo, up from $1 in the pre-COVID-19 period.
Fresh Produce Consortium(FPC), projects that an increase in international cargo flights into Nairobi will subsequent lower freight charges.
FPC Chief Executive Ojepat Okesegere anticipates production to fall by between 20 and 30 percent because of heavy rains that came with pests and diseases.
Europe, which is Kenya’s main market, has been easing restrictions as it opens up the economy following months of lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“The shortage is as a result of a number of things that include too much rain, transitioning of the crops from the old to the new one and a lack of motivation as farmers relaxed when their orders were cancelled during the Covid-19 lockdowns,” he said.
Mr Okesegere said the new crop is expected to get to the market after a month and will boost Kenya’s export market as the industry creeps out of pandemic-related disruptions.