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Kenya: Technology Can Boost Exports

Published date:
Tuesday, 20 February 2007

A US trade official yesterday said Comesa member countries must use biotechnology to increase and diversify agricultural exports, if they are to reap from market opportunities in America.

Trade and industry minister Mukhisa Kituyi and US ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannenberger arrive for the meeting.

Mr Mike Yost, the administrator for Foreign Agriculture Services, said the increased demand for biofuels in America had created new opportunities that the countries could exploit.

"The manufacture of ethanol from corn (maize) has resulted in price increase by 60 per cent in the last six months. This is an opportunity for agriculture producers in the world to get better prices and help reduce poverty" he said.

Opened a window

Addressing representatives from 17 companies from the US and 60 others from Comesa at Windsor hotel, he said that while the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa) had opened a window for Comesa to exports duty-free to America, the product range was too narrow.

The meeting was organised by the US East African Agribusiness Mission, for US companies on a one-week mission to East Africa. The firms said they were interested in food processing, beer and spirits, seafood, livestock genetics, dry grocery and production inputs and equipment sectors. Mr Yost said that the future of agricultural producers was in embracing biotechnology to increase production.

"These technologies will help farmers increase agricultural productivity, and help food manufacturers package, process, store and distribute quickly to those in need" Yost said. The mission will give opportunity for American and eastern Africa countries to learn from each other trade opportunities, impediments, business practices and government assistance programmes.

"They will make sales, form joint ventures, and find opportunities for investment in production, processing, or marketing resulting in increased trade." Yost said.

He said the region had much to gain from successful conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda, a multilateral trade reform agenda pursued by the Wold Trade Organisation (WTO), which seeks to remove trade barriers.

Kenya's Trade and Agriculture minister, Mukhisa Kituyi, said there was need to diversify to supplement the foods that will be taken up by the biofuels.

"The new manufacture of biofuels escalates the prices and removes food from the mouths of the people.

"This has implications on the food security." he said. Dr Kituyi added there was need to add value for more agricultural products to penetrate the American market.

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"Although Agoa has trippled the exports to America, the basket of production does not represent the production capacity of Kenya," he said.

Through Comesa, Uganda and Tanzania had emerged as the leading markets for Kenya's products.

US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, said his country last year contributed an estimated $1.5 billion in public and private inflows into Kenya.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of Kenya’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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