The value of Kenya’s avocado exports jumped 93 per cent to Sh4.26 billion in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous period, data by the Horticulture Directorate shows, buoyed by improved demand in global markets.
Kenya, which is ranked eighth globally in avocado production, exported 26,481 tonnes of the fruit between January and March this year compared to 15,101 tonnes in 2020.
The jump in avocado export volumes between January and March, came as Kenya lifted a ban on the shipment of the produce to markets abroad to curb pre-mature harvests by cartels keen on profiteering from global demand.
The Directorate of Horticulture allowed the resumption of export of the popular Fuerte variety on February 15 followed by Hass on March 8 after close to a four-month ban.
The horticulture regulator had banned the export of the two popular avocado varieties last November to curb the harvesting of the immature crop.
The avocado season for these main varieties normally comes to an end at that time resulting in a shortage of the fruit in the country, pushing up the cost of the commodity.
Kenya currently ships the bulk of its avocados to Europe and the Middle East.
Most of the consignments are currently heading to Europe, which is one of Kenya’s major markets for avocados in terms of returns, with some exported to the Middle East.
A few batches are exported to China as Kenya is yet to meet the conditions set by Beijing to warrant the exports of these fruits in large quantities.
The good returns from the sale of the fruit have attracted more Kenyans into cultivating it amid rising global demand.
“There has been an increase in area under cultivation and a shift from the traditional avocado growing zones to the Rift Valley and parts of western Kenya,” the Horticulture Directorate.
Avocado has been a major contributor of the income from the horticulture earnings, raking in nearly half of the total returns from fruits.
Kenya’s avocado exports jumped 15 per cent to 68,000 metric tonnes over the 12 months to October 2020, fetching the country Sh14 billion