Herbs and spices: A growing frontier for Kenya’s horticulture

Mon, Jul 26, 2021

Initiatives designed specifically to empower women and the youth are ongoing under the MARKUP project.

Both the women group and farmers are likely to directly or indirectly benefit from capacity support in the herbs and spices value chain in 12 counties in Kenya. The programme will especially address issues of aflatoxin, post- harvest management, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), market access among others.

“The project is highly keen on empowering women as they are key pillars to the economy, and the youth not only have potential now, but also in the future” says Maina Karuiru, MARKUP Kenya National Coordinator.

He further notes that women account for the highest number of labour supply in the horticulture sector, noting that MARKUP Kenya will seek to empower them in a bid to reduce poverty. The youth, he adds, have numerous opportunities in the horticulture and nuts sector, from production, processing to marketing. These opportunities need to be tapped in a bid to create employment and enhance empowerment.

There are excellent prospects in the European Union (EU), which is the lead world market for herbs and spices, as well as in other countries with potential export demand as revealed by the global market trend for herbs and spices.  The EU market is the second largest market for seasonings, spices and herbs in the world, accounting for €1.2 billion (Ksh153 billion). The EU, according to the Centre for Promotion of Imports from Developing countries (CBI) 57, imports 97 per cent of its herbs and spices from developing countries.

Prospects for Kenya to develop and promote its exports of horticulture (vegetables, herbs and spices, and fruits) lie in the new standard KS 1758 Part Two, which was launched in July 2017 and for which training has been launched in various counties.

It also seeks to strengthen cohesion among smallholder farmers for increased negotiating power with traders, and increased opportunities to build long-term relationships with buyers.

Variety of herbs and spices

The spices and herbs with global demand include the following: Pepper, parsley, paprika, marjoram, capsicum (chillies and cayenne pepper) oregano, pimento (allspice), thyme, coriander, bay leaves, cinnamon, rosemary, ginger, basil, nutmeg, mint, caraway, savoury, turmeric, dill, cumin, tarragon, cloves, sage, mace, cardamom, anise or badian seeds, fenugreek, saffron, vanilla, fennel seeds and juniper berries.

According to the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), the herbs and spices that are being promoted for export include chives, rosemary, dill, marjoram, basil, mint, parsley, coriander, curry leaves, celery, and chillies (thin, long, bullet & birds eye).

The Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) Kenya, sponsored by the European Union, is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), in partnership with the private sector, county governments and the Kenya government.

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