The horticulture agency has re-opened avocado export days after China opened its giant market to Kenyan produce.
Farmers will be allowed to export the popular avocado varieties, Fuerte and Hass from March 4 and March 18, respectively.
Head of Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) Benjamin Tito said a survey conducted by the regulator and other stakeholders has shown that at least 20 to 30 per cent of the fruits are ready for harvesting and Kenya stands to earn good income due to prevailing good prices globally.
“We had a meeting on Friday with stakeholders and agreed that we open the market this March given that there are crops that are ready for harvesting,” said Tito.
The move comes to resume exports of avocado as a boost to Kenyan farmers especially now when there is shortage in the world market.
Last week, the Chinese government allowed Kenya to export fresh avocado after four years of lobbying as Beijing reverses an initial requirement that only allowed frozen produce.
China had locked out the fresh produce in 2019 due to prevalence of fruit flies locally.
Kephis managing director Theophilus Mutui said the move follows successful completion of the rigorous Pest Risk Analysis carried out by the agency and the National Plant Protection Organisation of China, which identified quarantine pests of concern to China that should be controlled before export.
“Kenya has been granted market access by the Peoples’ Republic of China for export of fresh avocado fruits,” said Mutui.
The deal to export avocado to China was agreed on in April 2019 between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping but Beijing required Kenya to export only frozen avocado, which a majority of exporters could not manage owing to the high cost involved.
The directive saw only one firm out of over 100 meet the requirements laid down by the Chinese six months later after Nairobi and Beijing signed the deal.
Picking of avocado was stopped four months ago to curb the harvesting of immature crop in order to safeguard Kenya’s market abroad by restricting shipping of low-quality fruits.
Avocado has been a major contributor of the earnings in the horticulture sector, raking in nearly half of the total returns from fruits.
During the export restriction, earnings from fruits declined marginally in 2021 to Sh18.3 billion from Sh18.4 billion a year earlier despite an increase in volumes from 105 million kilos to 117 million last year.