Economy

Exports hope as mangoes pass Italian safety test

mangoes

Mangoes ready for processing at Burton and Bamber Company in Machakos.FILE PHOTO | NMG

geraldandae

Summary

  • Kenya’s mangoes have received a clean bill of health in Italy in a major boost to growers as the country prepares to start exports to Europe after a 10-year ban due to fruit flies.
  • Kenya Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) said some tonnes of mangoes were sent to Italy on trial basis after the country corrected the issues that led to the ban.

Kenya’s mangoes have received a clean bill of health in Italy in a major boost to growers as the country prepares to start exports to Europe after a 10-year ban due to fruit flies.

Kenya Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) said some tonnes of mangoes were sent to Italy on trial basis after the country corrected the issues that led to the ban and that Rome expressed its satisfaction with the fruits.

The self-imposed ban saw Kenya rely on less lucrative middle-east market. However, with the presence of hot water treatment to contain the fruit flies, the lucrative European market is beckoning for farmers.

“Italy received the consignment that we sent so well and they are even asking for more. This now gives us a window to resume exports to Europe,” said Kephis managing director Theophilus Mutui.

Prof Mutui said the country was in the process of establishing a number of hot water treatment plants to tame the menace caused by these pests and fully resume exports to the European market and cut over-reliance on Middle East.

Kenya’s mango exports to the Middle East normally face steep competition from the Egyptian fruits because of the low cost of shipping from Cairo to Dubai and Qatar compared to Kenya's.

Egypt’s proximity to middle-eastern countries, where Kenya is at the moment exporting the bulk of its fruits, enjoys lower shipping cost with a kilo going for Sh32 by ship when compared with a Kenyan exporter who has to part with Sh108 for the same quantity.

Egypt has the advantage of the sea, which cuts on cost, when compared with Kenya which has to export by air for the fruits to arrive when still fresh.

Kenya will also for the first time start mango exports to Pakistan as the government is scheduled to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding, which has been delaying the deal that was first reached in 2016.

Kephis said the draft to this effect is ready and now awaits the signing by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

The development comes just weeks after Pakistan said it was ready to buy mangoes from Kenya but the slow pace by Nairobi in approving the MoU had delayed the deal.