The sale of immature avocados that rot before ripening will kill Kenya’s export business if the Horticulture Directorate does not impose harsher penalties on the culprits.
Granted, it has suspended two companies said to have shipped immature avocados to overseas markets in violation of set rules.
But the regulator must widen its net to capture more rogue exporters. Avocado export in Kenya is still at a developmental stage.
Because the sub-sector is fragmented due to the lack of large tracts of land under the fruit, there seems to be no standardisation.
Exporting sub-standard fruits must stop, and the government needs to also penalise the exporters, middlemen and farmers who harvest immature fruits.
There has been an increasing appetite for avocados both locally and internationally, with Kenya looking to earn Sh30 billion annually from avocado farming, an increase from the current Sh15 billion.
But only harsher penalties can help save the industry which will soon face stiff competition from Spain, Colombia, and Peru, whose avocados tend to have very few to no defects.