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What is the market potential for Kenyan lemons in Europe?

Despite the rising demand for lemons, there has been a low supply in the local and export markets which has made the prices hike. The consumption and usage of lemons have increased due to their health benefits and high nutritional value. Besides, they contain essential immunity-building vitamins for fighting COVID-19. The prices are expected to hike to Ksh 200 per kilo since the demand supersedes the supply.

Lemons still dominate the citrus pandemic demand wave in the European market. The wholesale demand for fresh lemons is still high despite having little flexibility. The regular shortfalls and growing consumption provide unlimited opportunities to lemon farmers in Kenya. Although Spain is the dominant supplier, their production is still low to sustain the increasing demand, especially in Northern Europe. Since the supply is still low, most nations are forced to import lemons from other non-European nations. The Netherlands provides the largest markets for lemons.

Why is the demand for Kenyan fresh lemons in the European markets expected to increase?

Previously, the European market was depending on supplies from Spain. Spain was producing more than 80 percent of the total lemons consumed in Europe. However, regular shortfalls in the Spanish supply and the increasing consumption of lemons have fueled the demand for non-European lemons, with most nations exporting from Africa and South America. In the 2015-2016 season, there was a tremendous reduction in the Spanish supplies by close to 23% due to harsh climatic conditions that affected the trees during the flowering stage. From 2016, lemon imports into Europe increased rapidly than expected. Since the supply reduced when the Spanish production decreased, the prices for lemons hiked and the demand has been rising each year to fill in the demand gap.

Besides, Europe also relies on supplies from Turkey, South Africa, and Argentina, especially in summer. Currently, the lemon trade is susceptible due to fluctuations since the number of countries supplying lemons to Europe is limited. Prices are likely to increase if the supplies from any of the main lemon exporters are affected by fruit diseases or the changing climate.

Regular shortfalls from the Spanish supply and the increasing consumption of lemons provide unlimited opportunities for Kenyan producers to exploit. Europe provides a large market for lemons and Kenyan lemons lie in a better position of accessing the lucrative European market. The good relationship between Kenya and the European Union makes it easier for Kenyan lemons to penetrate the European Union markets. An increase in prices is expected from June or July. However, Kenyan producers should produce high-quality fruits to be able to deal with the strong competition from other exporters such as Turkey, Spain, Argentina, and South Africa.

Which European countries should Kenyan lemon producers and exporters target?

The demand for imported lemons is highest in Northern Europe especially in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. However, these nations mainly rely on supplies from Spain. To complement its production, Italy imports from other countries while Poland mainly imports Turkish lemons. The Netherlands imports large volumes of non-European lemons from other countries such as Argentina and South Africa to meet the increasing demand. These markets can provide unlimited opportunities for Kenyan producers and exporters since the demand for non-European lemons quite high.

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Establishing a tree fruit orchard in Kenya

Establishing an orchard for your tree fruits

Where to plant your fruit trees is an important consideration when starting your orchard. Ideally you want good drainage, good soil, plenty of sunshine (fruiting trees require a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun per day during the growing season), and good air flow. You want your trees to be wind protected and try to avoid low-lying sites. A slope is the best location, if you have one. Fertile soils with a depth of  more than 1.5 meters and pH range of 5.8–6.6 are ideal for growing fruit trees.

Dig large holes before planting fruit trees. The tree holes need to be large enough to accommodate the root system, a 2 feet diameter is a good measurement. Mix well with the existing soil and good quality compost. Mulching and composting are an important part of the orchard.

The proposed orchard’s site has to be cleared as thoroughly as possible of perennial weeds, undergrowth, trees, stumps, roots, trash and debris. This should be followed by levelling of unwanted anthills and the elimination of their destructive inhabitants. To achieve a good tilth of the cleared land, fruit growers are advised to plant an annual crop a year before starting fruit cultivation. After this annual crop has been harvested, the final re-ploughing, harrowing and levelling is carried out.

 

Selection of suitable fruit species/cultivars

The choice of suitable fruit species and cultivars to grow is one of the most important prerequisites for successful fruit farming. A cultivar must be adapted to the environmental conditions of the locality in which it is to be grown, and there should be a good market demand for it. For many fruits there is an extended list from which to choose.

  • Mangoes (Kent, Tommy, Ngowe and apple varieties) @150
    Hass avocados/fuerte @150
    Oranges @150
    Muthakwa grafted tree tomatoes @100
    Apples @400
    Lime @150
    Lemons@100
    Tangerines @150
    Macadamia @400
    Grafted purple passion fruits @70
    Aplicot @300
    Pepino melons @100
    Tissue culture bananas @250
    Guavas @100
    Plums @400
    Peaches @300
    Pomegranates @300
    kiwi @800
    Pawpaw @50
    Grapes @250