Avocado exporters given four days clear with regulator ahead of ban


Avocados for exports. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Farmers and exporters dealing in avocado export business have been given four days to seek clearance with horticulture regulators before a ban is imposed.

The country is soon planning to ban the export of popular varieties such as Hass and Fuerte exports meant for the export market.

Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya CEO Okisegere Ojepat said the ban might be enacted until early March to curb the export of immature fruits.

The move by the regulators is aimed at curbing harvesting of immature crops following rampant cases of traders picking young crops previously to capitalise on high prices of the commodity at the international market.

"We had a meeting as association horticulture leadership to ensure there is control of the flow of export out of the country," said Ojepat.

He went on: "Anybody who has off season fruits and has sorted clearance from the regulators, they are going to be given a window to ensure that those fruits are exported within the next four days."

Mr Ojepat noted there is scarcity of the avocado globally market.

Currently Kenya is the top avocado exporter in Africa, its main competitors are Mexico and Peru who 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.

However, he noted that previously poor quality avocado fruits have found their way in the global market.

"If we are top in terms of volume, we would like to be the best in terms of quality also," said Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya CEO.

Going forward farmers will be asked to transport their produce in crates to curb post-harvest losses.

"Avocados will no longer be transported on open pick-ups and tracks. As agreed by the directorate they will be carried on washable crates so that they are transported hygienically," he said.

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

However, the country only exported 10 percent of its total avocado production, an indicator that the market potential is not fully exploited.