JKIA treatment plant boosts farmers’ bid to access EU market

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Mango farmers eyeing to export their produce to Europe have been handed a fighting chance following the launch of a hot water treatment facility to curb the notorious pests that resulted in a ban.

The facility, which is located at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, will be used by all exporters to arrest fruit flies on the produce. Kenya imposed a self-ban on exports of mango to Europe- a lucrative market for the country’s produce in 2015, following high cases of fruit flies to avert sanctions from the European Union.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the hot water treatment facility will enhance Kenya’s horticulture exports to the international markets.

“It is clear in my mind that the facility will revitalise and expand the horticulture export business by improving market access and cementing Kenya’s position as a leading exporter of fresh horticulture produce to the global market,” said Mr Munya.

Before Kenya imposed a ban on mango exports in 2015 the volume exported was 14 million tonnes valued at Sh1.61 billion. Since then, the quantities exported have halved to 7.1 in 2020 valued at Sh1.05 billion last year.

The CS said the project will also create numerous jobs along the value chain for the country upon its completion.

“These job opportunities will be derived from the ripple effect created upon completion of the project,” said the CS.

He said the project will ease the marketing challenges that farmers constantly face and that the country’s products will have preferential market access to the international market.

Local mango and fruit farmers have been grappling with the fruit fly since 2003 when the pest was first reported in the country from Sri Lanka.

The self-imposed ban has seen Kenya sell the bulk of its mangoes to the Middle East but returns have been lower compared to what growers would earn from EU states.

Egypt’s proximity to middle-eastern countries, where Kenya is at the moment exporting the bulk of its fruits, enjoys lower shipping costs 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 transport costs, compared with Kenya which has to export by air for the fruits to arrive when still fresh.

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