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 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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The formulation exercise of the Next programme, can be considered as the finetuning of the COLEACP strategy for Kenya, and was based on the following input:

Missions executed, Requests received and activities conducted so far under the FFM and FFM SPS programmes in Kenya

COLEACP’s intervention strategy for Kenya has been informed by exploratory missions in December 2016 and March 2017, follow-up missions in September and December 2017, March, May and November 2018, and September and December 2019. Under the FFM and FFM SPS , more than 90 MOU have been signed with companies, service providers, competent authorities, training institutions in Kenya and more than 200 activities implemented for these beneficiaries.

Stakeholder consultation
In preparation of the design of the NExT programme, individual meetings were held with stakeholders, both from private and public sector.

In November 2019, COLEACP convened a horticulture industry workshop, to prioritize challenges and interventions, to be addressed in order to enhance productivity and competitiveness of the horticulture value chains in Kenya. About 30 participants were drawn from the National and the County Government, key horticulture associations, services and products providers, farmers and value chain actors.

The meeting was premised on the outcomes of a previous stakeholder meeting held on 4th September 2019, where a raft of challenges were identified. The outcomes formed the basis of prioritization and interventions necessary to improve the performance of the sub sector.
In parallel other donor funded programmes active in the horticultural sector were contacted and meetings organized, to make sure the activities included in the NExT programme would complement and not overlap the other initiatives.

Below are the key elements of the revised strategy:


The focus is on value chains with high market potential: for the export market these are fine vegetables (French beans, peas, chilies), avocados and cut flowers that are for the first time included in the scope of COLEACP activities in Kenya, under the NExT programme . 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.

It is to be noted that for the cut flowers, support will not be directly provided to individual companies, but rather through strengthening the private sector associations and the official control systems.

Many of the companies applying for support export fine vegetables (French beans, peas, chilies, 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 Programmes Kenya

COLEACP executes several programmes in Kenya:

Two All ACP programmes are currently executed by COLEACP: the Fit For Market (FFM) , budget 25 million Euro and timeline 2016-2021 and the complementary FFM SPS programme, focusing on Sanitary and phytosanitary compliance for public sector institutions, budget 15 million Euro and timeline (2019-2023) . Kenya currently is and has been historically under former programmes such as PIP and EDES, the main intervention country for these programmes, accounting for an estimate of 15% of the activities, because of its vibrant horticultural sector.

The recently launched New Export Trade (Next) Kenya programme, (2020-2024), 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. Implemented by a programme management unit based in Nairobi, activities are supported by a growing network of local experts in East Africa, and are based on COLEACP’s proven system and tools for training, technical support and institutional capacity-building.

The programme will provide individual, demand-led support to MSMEs in the fruit and vegetable sectors; all horticultural sectors, including cut flowers, will benefit through support to their BMOs. This new venture continues COLEACP’s trademark promotion of engagement between the public and private sectors, and builds on the association’s 20-year history in Kenya through its past programmes and the two ongoing intra-ACP Fit For Market programmes. The programme is launching in the fast-changing context of COVID-19. The need to strengthen food production and distribution systems, and to increase the resilience of agri-food MSMEs to protect the health and livelihoods of employees, producers and communities, has never been greater. COLEACP’s programme activities aim to be agile and responsive to the ongoing urgent need to shift the focus and delivery methods for capacity-building activities over the coming months

Read more about the NExT Kenya programme.


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). Together with UNIDO, COLEACP will establish a baseline for extension work for various value chains, in order to design relevant capacity building activities for public sector extension staff.
  • 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. TMEA and COLEACP will collaborate amongst others regarding the support provided to exporters associations.
  • 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.
  • Rockefeller Foundation : is executing the Smart Markets for the Future Initiative. COLEACP and Rockefeller will collaborate to design and execute the successful implementation of the KS1758 standard for domestic market
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