Chilli prices have dropped by half following increased supply locally as restriction from European market over the presence of Codling Moth pest continues to take a toll on farmers.
A kilo of chilli has dropped from Sh120 in November last year to Sh60 currently with stakeholders attributing the decline on increased local supply.
The restriction follows European Union’s move to tighten the roles following the presence of Codling Moth pests on Kenyan chilli, which are quarantine insects in Europe. This has seen nearly all traders that used to export to that market stop for fear of product rejection.
Growers have now opted to concentrate on the Middle East market, but it is not as lucrative as the European one, forcing traders to offload a lot of the produce locally. “Over 90 percent of the firms that used to export chilli to Europe have stopped because of the presence of this pest the move has since seen high volume of chilli locally,” said Ojepati Okesegere, chief executive officer of Fresh Producers Consortium of Kenya. For exporters to meet the requirements for European lucrative market, they need to put in place a costly mechanism to contain the pest. These include fumigation using phosphine gas, create pest free zones that have to be approved by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) or export dry chilli. However, dried chilli cannot fetch good price as the fresh ones would that is why most firms are avoiding the option.
Kenya’s horticultural produce is continually facing challenges in the world market because of the phytosanitary requirements.
For instance Kenya’s avocado has been given stringent rules to adhere to before it gets access to the lucrative Chinese market in order to tame the spread of fruit flies to China. Under the deal that was agreed in April last year between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Kenya would only be allowed to export frozen avocado as a way of taming fruit flies pests, which are common in Kenya.
Kephis is still trying to come up with the remedy for controlling the moth, which is now posing a serious threat to the sector.