The Chinese government has allowed Kenya to export fresh avocado after four years of lobbying as Beijing reverses an initial requirement that only allowed frozen produce, coming as a major boost to farmers.
China had locked out the fresh produce in 2019 due to prevalence of fruit flies locally.
Kephis managing director Theophilus Mutui said the move follows successful completion of the rigorous Pest Risk Analysis carried out by the agency and the National Plant Protection Organisation of China, which identified quarantine pests of concern to China that should be controlled before export.
“Kenya has been granted market access by the Peoples’ Republic of China for export of fresh avocado fruits,” said Prof Mutui.
The deal to export avocado to China was agreed in April 2019 between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping but Beijing required Kenya to export only frozen avocado, which majority of exporters could not manage owing to the high cost involved.
The directive saw only one firm out of over 100 meet the requirements laid down by the Chinese six months later after Nairobi and Beijing signed the deal.
Prof Mutui said all the fresh avocado fruits must comply with applicable Chinese phytosanitary (plant health) laws and regulations, health and safety standards and be free from any quarantine pests of concern to China.
Producers and exporters wanting to export fresh avocado to china will have to ensure that all their production farms, pack houses and fumigation treatment facilities are registered by Kephis.
They will also be re required to apply Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and maintain proper sanitary conditions as well as implement Integrated Pest Management programs, which include pest monitoring, chemical and biological control and any other pest control operations.
Prof Mutui said the exporters would also be required to carry out treatment of the fresh avocado fruits by fumigation before export and ensure that all consignments are inspected prior to export.
China wanted Kenyan farmers and traders to freeze the fruits to negative 30 degree Celsius after peeling off the skin and chill further to negative 18 degrees while in transit to the destination, meaning that farmers have to invest heavily in cold rooms to meet the requirement.