Local appropriation

No substitution of local stakeholders

Investment in local expertise and human resources

Pooling of problems and solutions / Economies of scale

Demand-driven intervention / Cost sharing

Participatory approach

South-South cooperation

Export as factor of modernisation

Structured relationship between local value chain operators

Cross-cutting focus on youth and gender


This provides a simple framework for continuous improvement, focusing on the business case so that adopting good practice not only facilitates market access, but genuinely helps suppliers run more efficient, profitable and resilient businesses. It consists of three central elements:



Kenya, the fifth largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, became a low-middle-income country in 2014. Its population is 47.5 million (Kenya Census, 2019), 73% of whom live in rural areas where a significant proportion rely on subsistence farming. Rural poverty and income inequality remain persistent challenges due to critical demographic pressure as the population more than tripled over the past 40 years and is expected to reach more than 90 million by 2050 (World Bank, 2019).

Following the 2008 global economic recession, growth over the past five years (5.7% in 2018) makes Kenya one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, but its performance is strongly influenced by weather conditions as agriculture remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy (see more information on the macroeconomic context here). The agricultural sector was valued at KES 3.3 trillion in 2019 (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 2020).

Position of fruit and vegetables on export market

Over the past 10 years the UK has been the largest export destination for Kenya’s fruit and vegetables (25%, fresh and processed), followed by the Netherlands (16%) and France (11%). Over the past three years the main export sectors were beans, pineapples and avocados. For cut flowers, the UK is the second largest export destination after the Netherlands, receiving respectively 49% and 18% of the flowers produced in the country (2019).

Trade data and trends

According to the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), the value of horticultural fresh produce exports (flowers, fruit and vegetables) is estimated at KES 157 billion in 2020 (versus KES 145 billion in 2019). Cut flower exports remain the largest contributor with an estimated KES 134 billion (KES 104 billion in 2019), representing 73% of total fresh produce annual earnings. Fruit (12%) and vegetables (15%) in 2020 account for KES 19 billion (KES 13 billion in 2019) and KES 24 billion (KES 27 billion in 2019), respectively.
In Kenya, the floriculture industry earned 885 Million in 2018, 814 Million in 2019 and 862 Million in 2020 from exports of cut-flowers, predominantly roses. Cut flowers sub-sector employs over 200,000 directly and supports over 4 million livelihoods, thus contributing greatly to the economy.

The European Union is one of the major markets for Kenya’s horticultural produce for floriculture including roses, carnations, and gypsophila. The floriculture sub-sector has recorded the highest growth in volume and value of cut flowers exported over the years, with Kenya attaining the lead supplier status to the European Union (EU).

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COLEACP’s intervention strategy for Kenya has been informed by exploratory missions in December 2016 and March 2017, and follow-up missions in September and December 2017, and March, May and November 2018, as well as 92 requests received by the end of the third year of the Fit For Market programme. The strategy focuses on the following topics.


The focus is on value chains with high market potential: for the export market these are fine vegetables (French beans, peas, chillies) and avocados. Sweet potato, mango and passion fruit are also developing, and are covered on demand. For local markets, the main crops include tomatoes, potatoes, Sukuma wiki, cabbages and onions. Many of the companies applying for support export fine vegetables(French beans, peas, chillies, baby corn, tenderstem broccoli, runner beans) to the EU, often mainly the UK (29 applications received so far). Many of the other applications were submitted by avocado-exporting companies (27), of which eight are becoming or are already certified for organic production. The other applications received are from three companies producing passion fruit and nine companies producing mango. All of these companies focus on export of fresh produce, except for three companies that are processing French beans, sweet potato or mango. Some of the companies also sell produce on the domestic market.

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COLEACP works closely with multiple donor-funded initiatives in the Kenyan horticulture industry to ensure synergies by exchanging information (ensuring transparency), identifying opportunities for coordination and collaboration, avoiding duplication and overlap, and up-scaling impacts (outputs can be adopted and disseminated by other programmes).

  • AgriFI programme (DANIDA; Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust, MESPT; Self Help Africa): the proposed intervention is highly complementary to the MESPT programme as the main target is farmer groups rather than exporters. The collaboration will aim to ensure small equipment/infrastructure can be financed through the AgriFI programme, while the new intervention will facilitate training dissemination and support compliance with market requirements to ensure market access for the produce of the targeted groups. Self Help Africa is also complementary because it provides access to finance for enterprises (soft loans and grants).
  • Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) (United Nations Industrial Development Organization at national level; International Trade Centre at regional level): at the national level, the collaboration will focus on creating synergies to support public extension staff, especially in mango and fine vegetables value chains, mostly through training for county extension staff where the programme is active (Busia, Siaya, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Makueni, Machakos, Kajiado, Meru). At the regional level, the objective is to avoid duplication for beneficiaries in the avocado value chain by building complementary action plans, collaborating in the setup of an interprofessional platform, and implementing the Good Practice Guidelines for avocado).
  • USAID-funded programmes: the Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS) programme, managed by RTI International, exhibits strong complementarity and some potential areas of overlap. The focus of the collaboration will be the mango value chain, where COLEACP will complement the activities RTI runs for the private sector through support for public sector organizations such as KEPHIS to improve market access for Kenyan mango to the EU by setting up a national action plan for fruit fly management and submitting a mango dossier to the EU (DG SANTE).
  • TradeMark East Africa: the second phase of the project, launched in January 2020, focuses on physical access to markets (construction of roads, border control points, setting up export processing zones, improving airports and ports), and improving the trade environment (policies, regulations) and business competitiveness.
  • CABI: CABI’s Plantwise programme in Kenya ended in December 2020; today Kenya has 300 plant clinics manned by two plant clinic doctors in 25 counties. CABI is in the design phase of a new programme in Kenya, funded by the EU (DG DEVCO), to improve capacity to detect new pests and outbreaks, and also focusing on food supply systems.

A donor mapping exercise to ensure synergies will be facilitated at the level of the National Task Force for Horticulture. COLEACP will formalize MOUs/collaboration agreements and establish information-sharing mechanisms with the programmes listed above.

In some cases the collaboration will go beyond information-sharing. For example, the joint effort with the national component of the MARKUP programme to establish of a baseline survey on the actual and potential role of Kenya’s county extension services in the French bean, mango, avocado, chilli, groundnut, macadamia and fresh herbs value chains, which will be followed by harmonization of the support offered to the counties.

In addition, COLEACP has established partnerships with the Netherlands Trust Fund programme, which supported the Kenyan avocado sector until mid-2017. Through the Fit For Market programme, COLEACP continues to support the 11 avocado exporters based in Murang’a County that benefited from this programme.

COLEACP also engaged with SNV’s Kenya Market-led Horticulture Project (HortIMPACT) in Kenya, to reflect on food safety compliance implementation for domestic markets. COLEACP contributed to the National Fruits and Vegetables Horticultural Conference 2018 and 2019, organized by FPEAK and FPC-Kenya, and facilitated by SNV, Global Communities, and Fit For Market.


COLEACP’s new Nairobi-based programme, signed on 30 April, aims to increase the resilience, inclusiveness and sustainability of Kenyan horticultural value chains. The four-year, €5 million programme financed by the European Union through the EU delegation in Kenya, will aim to secure a lasting improvement in the capacity of all stakeholders in the Kenyan horticultural sector to adapt to evolving sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS), commercial, social and environmental requirements on local, regional and international markets.

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