Commodities

Avocado exports resume as rival producers keep off

avocado

Avocados for export. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The horticulture regulator has opened the export window for avocado to overseas markets as Kenya seeks to capitalise on the shortage of the produce globally as Mexico and Peru- top world producers are off-season.

Head of Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) Benjamin Tito said farmers can now export Fuerte variety from March 4 while harvesting and export of Hass avocado will commence on March 18.

Mr Tito said a survey conducted by the regulator and other stakeholders has shown that at least 20 to 30 percent of the fruits are ready for harvesting and Kenya stands to earn good income due to prevailing good prices globally.

“We had a meeting on Friday with stakeholders and agreed that we open the market this March given that there are crops that are ready for harvesting,” said Mr Tito.

Picking of avocado was stopped four months ago to curb the harvesting of immature crop in order to safeguard Kenya’s market abroad by restricting shipping of low quality fruits.

Chief executive officer of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Ojepat Okisegere said the move to resume exports of avocado comes as a boost to Kenyan farmers.

“This is a boost to farmers especially now when there is a shortage in the world market,” said Mr Okisegere.

Avocado has been a major contributor of the earnings in the horticulture sector, raking in nearly half of the total returns from fruits.

During the export restriction, earnings from fruits declined marginally in 2021 to Sh18.3 billion from Sh18.4 billion a year earlier despite an increase in volumes from 105 million kilos to 117 million last year.

The move by the regulator was aimed at curbing harvesting of immature crop following previous rampant cases of traders picking young crops to capitalise on high prices of the commodity at the international market.

Kenya’s avocado market in the Middle East was hit in 2018 following the export of immature crop to that continent.

Last week, the Chinese government allowed Kenya to export fresh avocado after four years of lobbying as Beijing reversed an initial requirement that only allowed frozen produce, coming as a major boost to farmers.

Mr Tito said China is a key market for Kenya and that the country cannot meet the huge demand that exists in this Asian nation.

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