By Sharon Atieno

Kenya will not export any avocados until late February or early March. However, those who had an off season fruit and have sought clearance from the regulator have been given a four days window period to export their produce.

Okisegere Ojepat, Chief Executive Officer, Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC Kenya) said during an Africa Science Media Centre (AfriSMC) press briefing.

He said the restriction which takes place every year is to avoid exports of immature fruits into the global market. Also, there is a global shortage of avocado and some traders are trying to take advantage of the situation.

“We’ve had initial challenges in the past, where a few people have had bad quality that has gone into the market,” Ojepat said, adding that they are trying to ensure total control of exports outside the country.

He noted that monitoring and surveillance activities by field officers will be carried out in order to ensure maturity of the fruit is clear before certain areas are allowed to export.

With avocadoes being among Kenya’s biggest horticulture export, the country is looking forward to penetrating  the Chinese market by adding fresh avocados to the export list.

Currently, Kenya is exporting only frozen avocadoes to China. A condition which Ojepat said is disadvantageous for Kenya, “because most of our small holders and traders can not afford a facility that can freeze avocados to -17 degrees as required by the Chinese Authority.”

He noted that talks are ongoing on the fresh avocadoes with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KePHIS) and its Chinese counterpart expected to conduct inspection and address some technical issues as well as conducting pest risk assessment before Kenya is given the go ahead.

Avocado exports have been on the rise with Kenya being among the leading exporters of the fruit worldwide.

A local daily, reported that between January to November of 2021, avocado farmers earned Sh14.48 billion compared to Sh14.41 billion over a similar period in 2020.

Additionally, volumes of the highly sought commodity in the local and international market went up to 84.5 million kilos from 70.3 million kilograms recorded between January-November 2020.