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Kenya earns 20 pct more from horticulture exports in first 9 months

A worker arranges a collection of preserved flowers and foliage at the Vermont Flowers export processing zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya's capital Nairobi March 10, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

NAIROBI(Reuters) - Kenya's earnings from horticulture exports rose 20 percent to 77.81 billion shillings ($766 million) in the first nine months of this year from a year earlier, the country's statistics office said on Monday.

The data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics showed flower exports contributed 53.88 billion shillings, or 69 percent of the earnings, with the rest coming from the export of fruits and vegetables.

Horticulture is a key foreign exchange earner alongside tea, remittances from Kenyans living abroad and tourism.

Exports of flowers, fruits and vegetables earned Kenya a total of 90.44 billion shillings in the whole of last year.

($1 = 101.5500 Kenyan shillings)

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Toby Chopra)