The government has stopped the export of avocados from Friday to allow the fruits to mature as part of measures to protect Kenya’s lucrative export market.
In a notice on Tuesday, the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) suspended the export of Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo avocado varieties by sea starting November 3, 2023.
The directorate has, however, cleared air shipment of avocados, including those in transit from other East African Community (EAC) countries. The directorate says the decision follows a survey it undertook to authenticate the maturity indices of the avocado fruits in the major production zones.
“Following the findings of the survey, we hereby notify the Kenyan avocado stakeholders that the closing of Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo harvesting season and export by sea for the 2023/2024 fiscal year shall be in force with effect from November 3, 2023,” said HCD acting Director-General Willis Audi.
He added: “Export clearance (including fruit consignments from the EAC region) shall be granted for air shipment, subject to inspection by the Directorate. Traceability information will be required for all consignments.”
Temporary export bans are one of the main avenues Kenya uses to deter premature harvesting of avocados which leads to the export of low-quality fruit.
This comes at a time when demand for avocados has risen significantly in recent years, leading to better prices for the fruit.
In the half year to June 2023 for instance, Kakuzi, an agro firm listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), more than doubled its profits from avocado during the period to Sh654.8 million up from Sh288.6 million in 2022 with exports to Europe and China peaking.