Traders get two weeks to export avocado in off-season period


Farmers sort through some avocados loaded onto a pickup. FILE PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

The Horticulture Directorate has opened a two-week window for the export of off-season mature avocados following the closure of exports in November last year.

The move is to allow farmers and orchards that have mature avocados to export the fruits within the issued time frame.

Head of the directorate Benjamin Tito said the survey conducted in the first week of January showed that there is at least 10-35 percent of mature avocado in the east of Rift and 10-30 percent in the west of Rift, which needs to be exported.

“The survey found that there was some off-season mature avocado in the east and west of the Rift that needed to be harvested,” said Mr Tito.

The window will start on January 23 and run up to February 6 with the export for Fuerte, Hass, Jumbo and Pinkerton varieties expected to be done by sea only.

Read: North Rift farmers make Sh100m from avocados

The main season for the export of avocado starts on March 15 this year, and this has compelled the regulator to offer relief to exporters who have ready fruits.

The exporters are required to apply to the directorate for field inspection and approval before harvesting.

The move is aimed at curbing the export of immature crops that have previously had a negative impact on Kenya’s export markets, risking a ban on the country’s produce.

Chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, Ojepat Okisegere said the window is a big relief for growers who have a ready crop for market.

“This is a major relief to growers who have mature crops and ordinarily would not get a market as currently, the export window is closed,” said Mr Okisegere.

Avocados are one of the key contributors to foreign earnings, coming second after flowers in the horticulture sector.

Many countries, including Korea and Italy, have in the last one year been seeking to have Kenya avocado exported to their nations because of the high-fat content that the local fruits have.

Kenya’s exports of avocado to China hit Sh7 billion in three months to October 2022 exceeding the earnings that were realised in the first seven months of the year, highlighting the importance of the Chinese market to Kenyan farmers.

Read: Tanzania bans Kenyan firm for buying unripe avocados

In comparison, the country earned Sh6 billion from avocado exports to China between January and July 2022, according to the horticulture regulator.

Kenya started exporting avocados to China in August last year after many years of waiting, occasioned by regulatory requirements by the authorities in Beijing.

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