Kenya has started export of mangoes to Jordan, a major breakthrough for farmers who now have an alternative market for their produce.
The officials from Jordan were in the country last year to assess the state of Kenya’s mangoes in regard to pest management before making a decision on imports.
The Jordanian officials were particularly interested in knowing the measures that the country has put in place to contain pests that have previously seen Kenya’s mangoes to Europe stopped.
Kenya Health Inspectorate Service managing director Theophilus Mutui said Jordan gave Kenya’s pest control mechanism a green bill of health, leading to the commencement of exports early this year.
“The officials approved our pest-free area and the hot vapour treatment plant and they were content that we have put enough measures in place, leading to the opening of mango exports to Jordan,” said Prof Mutui.
Prof Mutui said Kenya is still keen to fully resume the European market as it fetches more money for the farmers than any other region in the world. The bulk of these fruits currently go to the Middle East.
Last year, Kenya started export of mangoes to Italy on a pilot basis following the creation of pest-free areas in Makueni and Elgeyo Marakwet and the consignment was received well, giving the country hopes of resuming the exports to the European business bloc fully.
Fruits grown in pest-free areas ensure that the produce is free of the notorious fruit flies that forced Kenya to stop exports to Europe.
Kenya’s mango exports to the Middle East normally face steep competition from Egyptian fruits because of the low cost of shipping from Cairo to Dubai and Qatar compared to Kenya's.
The self-imposed ban on the export of mangoes to Europe nearly a decade ago saw Kenya rely on a 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.
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 on cost when compared with Kenya which has to export by air for the fruits to arrive when still fresh.