Kenya resumes avocado exports as demand rises

Avocado Exports
Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The horticulture regulator has re-opened avocado exports as the country sought to capitalise on a global shortage of the commodity.

Head of Horticulture Crops Directorate Benjamin Tito said growers will be allowed to export the popular avocado varieties, Fuerte and Hass from March 4 and March 18, respectively.

Exports of the two varieties were stopped about four months ago to curb the harvest of the immature crop following rampant cases of traders picking young crops to capitalise on high prices of the commodity at the international market.

Mr Tito said a survey conducted by the regulator and other stakeholders has shown that at least 20 to 30 percent of the fruits are ready for harvesting and Kenya stands to earn a good income due to prevailing good prices globally.

“We had a meeting on Friday with stakeholders and agreed that we open the market this March given that there are crops that are ready for harvesting,” he said.

Chief executive officer of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Ojepat Okisegere said the resumption of exports comes as a boost to Kenyan farmers.

“This is a boost to farmers especially now when there is a shortage in the world market,” said Mr Okisegere.

Top world avocado producers, Mexico and Peru are currently off the main season—creating a shortage of the fruit.

Avocado has been a major contributor to the earnings in the horticulture sector, raking in nearly half of the total returns from fruits.

During the export restriction, earnings from fruits declined marginally in 2021 to Sh18.3 billion from Sh18.4 billion a year earlier despite an increase in volumes from 105 million kilos to 117 million last year.

Kenya’s avocado market in the Middle East was hit in 2018 following the export of immature crops to that region. The decline resulted from immature avocados that were being exported to Dubai by unscrupulous businessmen following the high demand for fruit in the world market.

Last week, the Chinese government allowed Kenya to export fresh avocado after four years of lobbying as Beijing reversed an initial requirement that only allowed frozen produce, coming as a major boost to farmers.

Mr Tito said China is a key market for Kenya and that the country cannot meet the huge demand that exists in this Asian nation.