Kenya’s sisal fibre exports in the first quarter of last year rose by four per cent from 5,632.6 tonnes compared to 5,391.6 tonnes in the same period in 2017.
Sisal market analysis report 2018 compiled by Agriculture and Food Authority’s (AFA) Fibre Crops Directorate noted despite the increase in exports attributed to high global demand for sisal fibre, prices remained depressed.
Growing demand of the fibre from construction industries in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia also fuelled demand for the sisal.
“In the first quarter of 2017, the average export price was Sh182.23 per kilogramme while last year it stood at Sh167.11 per kg. The lower prices are due to stiff competition from Tanzania. This is despite the fact that the Kenyan crop is of superior quality compared to the one from Tanzania” stated the report.
However, there was a glimmer of hope for Kenya’s sisal as prices of its premium grade two variety doubled to Sh202.43 per kg last year compared to Sh112.7 in 2017. All other grades fetched lower prices in 2018 compared to the previous year.
Head of the directorate Naomi Kamau said more than 90 per cent of locally produced sisal is exported, with a tonne of the crop in the international market currently trading at Sh180,000 compared with Sh100,000 fetched locally.
In the first quarter of 2018 the country exported the crop to 25 sisal export destinations, with Saudi Arabia commanding a 22.6 per cent share followed by China (10.5 per cent), Philippines (8.7 per cent), Nigeria (8.5 per cent) and India (six per cent).
The directorate is now working with small-scale farmers and the counties to increase the production of the crop from the current annual production of 25,000 to 30,000 tonnes.
“We are partnering with the county governments and the smallholder farmers to increase production and also empower them on value addition for fibre in order to make these products affordable to Kenyans,” said Kamau.