A COLEACP partner in Cameroon reports that, in the wake of difficulties caused by security challenges throughout 2019, further heavy losses are being experienced in 2020 due to the coronavirus. Since March, the French are confined, many markets are closed and the planes are grounded. This situation has led to losses due to plots of land not being harvested because produce cannot be exported. Many producers no longer have the cashflow to continue their activities. Small activities such as small shops, restaurants, bars are all in slow motion and a lot of others are at a standstill. Many employees are on technical leave or laid off. During this period the company has been receiving small orders, but transport via the existing air freight routes is very difficult and can result in produce (such as pineapples) being abandoned en route or delayed too long, and transport is at a super high rate (twice as much as the normal high price). For this company, the closing of the borders took place while they were preparing for the renewal of the GlobalG.A.P. certificate. As the auditors came from Côte d’Ivoire, the application for certification was suspended. The Covid-19 situation will have repercussions on the next fruit and vegetable export campaigns, particularly on pineapple, because during this period, many producers have not planted due to lack of means.
Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC Kenya) has confirmed that Kenya’s vegetable and flower exports have recovered to about 80% of the volumes before the Covid-19 outbreak (CGTN Africa, 28 May). Okisegere Ojepat, chief executive officer of FPC Kenya, said that the initial panic in March that disrupted exports has corrected itself gradually. “Our vegetable export has recovered up to 89% of volumes exported before the pandemic hit Kenya while flower export has recovered to 80%. In March, when the panic set in, our exports dropped from 100% to 30%,” said Ojepat during a webinar organized by Strathmore University in Nairobi. “What we are lacking now are enough supplies. This is because many farmers were disrupted leading to stoppage of production.” Ojepat says cargo movements to the Middle East, Europe and the United States from Nairobi have enabled Kenyan farmers to resume exports, and the market is becoming bigger.