Avocado dealers have 4 days to export off-season fruit before ban

Avocados

Avocado farmers and exporters have four days to seek clearance from horticulture regulators before a temporary ban on exporting the fruit to international markets is adopted.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Avocado farmers and exporters have four days to seek clearance from horticulture regulators before a temporary ban on exporting the fruit to international markets is adopted.

Kenya plans to ban exports of popular avocado varieties such as Hass and Fuerte, which are largely meant for the export market.

The ban is likely to be in place until early March to curb exports of immature fruits, said Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya CEO Okisegere Ojepat.

The move aims to curb the harvesting of immature crops, after it emerged that traders were picking young crops to capitalise on high prices in the international market.

Avocado is a major source of income in horticulture, raking in nearly half of the total returns from fruits.

Anyone who has off-season fruits and has sought clearance from regulators will be given a window to export the fruits within the next four days, Mr Ojepat said.

Mr Ojepat noted that there is a scarcity of avocados globally.

Main competitors

Kenya is the top avocado exporter in Africa. Its main competitors are Mexico and Peru, which export their produce in June.

"We are the only ones with the window to export avocados globally, thus everybody is finding a way of selling the fruits out there," he said.

But he noted that low-quality avocado fruits have previously found their way into the global market.

The temporary ban seeks to prevent exports of immature avocados, which the Fresh Produce Consortium says has hurt Kenya’s image in overseas markets.

"If we are top in terms of volume, we would like to be the best in terms of quality also," Mr Ojepat said.

Meanwhile, farmers will now be required to transport their produce in crates to curb post-harvest losses.

"Avocados will no longer be transported on open pickups and trucks. As agreed by the directorate, they will be carried in washable crates so that they are transported in a hygienic way," he said.

Murang’a leading

Kenya topped Africa in avocado exports last year and was among the world's top 10 producers, with Murang’a leading with 31 per cent of total production, the Horticulture Crops Directorate says.

But the country only exported 10 per cent of its total avocado production, indicating that the market potential has not been fully exploited.

Revenues from horticulture exports from January to November 2021 rose from Sh136.7 billion in 2020 to Sh145.4 billion in 2021, a six per cent increase.

This was driven by increased volumes, though the average export prices were low compared with 2020.

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