The Avocado Society of Kenya (ASOK) has started sensitising farmers on the new avocado export regulations announced by the Horticulture Crops Directorate, chief executive officer Earnest Muthomi has said.
Last week, the Directorate raised the minimum solid content for export avocados from 20 and 21 percent for Fuerte and Hass varieties respectively to 24 percent in order to comply with international standards.
The horticultural regulator said the changes would ensure Kenyan fruits are competitive in the global export market.
Dry matter is the solid content of the fruit and is used to measure maturity. Some farmers have been harvesting immature produce that has high moisture content, posing a major challenge to the competitiveness and pricing of Kenyan avocado in external markets.
“Some farmers don’t understand what these regulations mean in terms of their earnings and we have launched an initiative to educate them on the same. We are telling them that they are not being targeted unfairly and that the regulations are for their own good,” said Mr Muthomi.
“There has been stiff competition from the world market and our farmers should know that they have to produce quality fruits. The most serious problem is that farmers are enticed by brokers to harvest immature avocados which spoil Kenya’s reputation in the international markets and we want this to stop,” he added.
Kenya has lately tightened harvest and export conditions for avocado following a global shortage that triggered unethical practices such as immature harvesting of the crop by crooks seeking to capitalise on strong demand for the fruit.
The country’s avocado export window was only re-opened in March after a four-month ban. Export of the popular Fuerte and Hass varieties resumed on March 4 and March 18 respectively.
Exports had been suspended four months earlier in a bid to stop unscrupulous traders who were picking immature crop to take advantage of the higher global prices.