The horticulture regulator has extended the ban on the export of Kenya’s popular avocado varieties to overseas markets to curb the harvesting of immature crop.
Head of Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) Benjamin Tito said the ban on Fuerte and Hass varieties will continue indefinitely.
The ban was placed on November 15, 2021, with exceptions given to exporters specialising on the Jumbo variety and those having off-season crop.
“The harvesting of Hass and Fuerte avocado varieties will remain suspended until further notice,” said Mr Tito.
He said exporters with the Jumbo variety, who are still allowed to ship out, will only do it by air and not sea with the weight expected to be at least 184 grammes for a single fruit.
Dealers and companies with off-season crop shall request verification for inspection from HCD regional offices in writing within 24 hours, a requirement that has been in place since November 15 last year.
The review on when the ban was to be lifted was conducted on January 18 to ascertain the status of the crop. Exporters had projected that the export market would be opened next month as it has been the tradition.
“The directorate has been closely monitoring harvest trends, patterns and undertaking surveys to authenticate the maturity indices of the avocado fruit in the major production zones. The recent survey indicated that the main season crop is still immature,” Mr Tito said.
The move by the regulator is aimed at curbing harvesting of immature crop following previous rampant cases of traders picking young crops to capitalise on high prices of the commodity at the international market.
Avocado has been a major contributor of the earnings in the horticulture sector, raking in nearly half of the total returns from fruits.
Kenya’s avocado market in the Middle East was hit in 2018 following the export of immature crop to that continent.
The price of avocado to Dubai dropped by almost half in 2018 as exports of immature crop hit the value of the produce to that market.
The HCD indicated that the price of a unit of avocado dropped from 35 dirhams (Sh945) previously to 16 dirhams (Sh432) in that year.
The decline resulted from immature avocados that were being exported to Dubai by unscrupulous businessmen following high demand of fruit in the world market.