Only one firm out of over 100 has met the requirements laid down by the Chinese for export of avocados to the Asian country, six months after Nairobi and Beijing signed the deal.
The deal agreed in April this year between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping allowed Kenya to export frozen avocado to tame pests common with Kenyan fruits.
The Government, through the Ministry of Trade, has started negotiations to have the directive eased and allow local firms to export fresh avocado as they work towards laying necessary infrastructure to meet the requirements.
“The Ministry of Trade has opened negotiations with China over the matter and we expect a positive response,” said Ojepati Okesegere, chief executive officer of Fresh Producers Consortium of Kenya.
Mr Okesegere said the rule has hindered firms from accessing crucial Chinese market that would have come as a boon to farmers.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), which is overseeing the export of avocados says the conditions set by China might limit small-scale holders from accessing the market. Kephis warned that the conditions are so strict that Kenya’s avocado could be banned from the Chinese market if they fail to comply with the phytosanitary requirements.
According to Kephis, farmers will be required to put systems in place that will support the peeling and freezing of the produce to the required temperatures before exporting.
China wants Kenyan farmers and traders to freeze the fruits to negative 30 degrees after peeling off the skin and chill further to negative 18 while on transit, meaning that exporters have to invest heavily on cold rooms to meet the requirement.