China set to conduct another audit round on Kenyan avocados


Ambrose Murigi displaying avocadoes he has harvested from his farm in Muruka area, Kandara Constituency in Murang'a County. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO | NMG

Avocado exporters may have to wait longer to access the Chinese market after it emerged that the Asian country will conduct another round of audit before allowing Kenya’s produce.

The crops regulator, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), had completed an inspection of the firms that have applied for licences to export the fruits to China.

However, Kephis told the Business Daily that China came with another requirement that would see Beijing conduct virtual audits before Kenya can finally access this lucrative market.

“We have received communication from China that they need to carry out a virtual audit of orchards and facilities before we can start exporting our avocado to their market,” said Isaac Macharia, General Manager of Phytosanitary services at Kephis.

Mr Macharia said over 10 firms have so far shown interest to export their avocados to China and that the auditing process has so far been conducted.

There have been concerns by some exporting firms who argued that they had not been given a go-ahead to export months later after the audits were done.

“We had our facility inspected two months ago and to date, we are yet to get feedback from Kephis on the way forward in regard to exporting to the Chines market,” said one of the exporters who did not want to be named.

Kephis says the new requirement by China is what has slowed the process.

In March this year, China allowed Kenya to export fresh avocado, which was a departure from the previous directive that required the country to export only frozen fruit.

Pest monitoring

The deal to export avocado to China was agreed upon in April 2019 between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Producers and exporters wanting to export fresh avocado to China have to ensure that all their production farms, pack houses, and fumigation facilities are registered by the government as one of the conditions to access that market.

All the fresh avocado fruits meant for export must also 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.

They will also be required to apply Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and maintain proper sanitary conditions as well as implement Integrated Pest Management programmes, which include pest monitoring, chemical, and biological control, and any other pest control operations.

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