Kenya is seeking the help of governors to boost exports of raw bananas and broccoli to South Korea. The exports have failed to grow despite the Asian nation exempting the two Kenyan goods from its stringent quality tests.
In 2018, South Korea’s Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA) exempted raw bananas and broccoli from Kenya from pest risk tests as it moved to meet rising local demand for bananas, which make up to 50 per cent of its fruit imports, amid soaring prices of apples and other home-grown fruits.
The Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) tests on fruits, vegetables and plants check for the presence of pests, a confirmation which leads to the goods being destroyed, returned to the exporter or banned.
But with the waiver, Kenyan exporters now only require a clearance certificate from local authorities to get their produce to South Korea.
Trade PS Johnson Weru, however, notes that despite this exemption, exporters are yet to increase their sales to the South Korean market, and he is seeking the assistance of county governors to arrest the situation.
“One of the major outcomes of the bilateral consultations (between Kenya and South Korea) was information to the effect that the Korean government had granted market access authorisation for Kenya to export unripe bananas and broccoli to South Korea,” Mr Weru said.
In the letter to the Council of Governors chief executive officer Jacqueline Mogeni, Mr Weru requests her to lobby counties that produce the two products to ramp up their production and seek clearance certificates at the plants health inspectorate for export. “These two products do not require Pest Risk Analysis (PRA). However, the products should be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from Kenya’s competent authorities. In spite of this offer, we have noted that the volume of exports of these two products is dismally small,” the PS said.
Pests and diseases
The quality checks for pests and diseases for horticultural produce and plants meant for export from Kenya are done by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service.
Counties that produce green bananas include Kisii, Nyamira, Bungoma, Kakamega, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kericho and Kirinyaga.
But most banana farmers produce the fruits small-scale, which means that the bananas are mostly consumed locally especially in major towns, with fewer farmers producing enough quantity or quality to favourably compete in the cut-throat international banana market.