The Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD) has stepped up inspection of mango export consignments after it emerged that some rogue traders were sneaking avocado fruits hidden in such packages to evade a ban on the popular fruit.
The regulator said that mango exporters are now required to provide details of the location of their pack house to enable investigation of the packing facilities to ensure they are not being used to pack avocados.
“Subsequently, mango exporters are required to demonstrate compliance, failure to which, their dealership will be revoked,” said HCD acting director-general Willis Audi.
Read: Kenya bans avocado exports starting Friday
Kenya is a major exporter of mangoes to the Middle East. However, small quantities of processed (dried) mango fruit are also exported to the Netherlands, UK, and Italy.
HCD stopped the export of Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo avocado varieties on Friday last week to allow the fruits to mature as part of measures to protect Kenya’s lucrative export market. The directorate has, however, cleared air shipment of avocados, including those in transit from other East African Community (EAC) countries.
The directorate said the decision was informed by a survey it undertook to authenticate the maturity indices of the avocado fruits in the major production zones.
This comes at a time when demand for avocados has risen significantly in recent years, leading to better prices for the fruit. In the half year to June 2023 for instance, Kakuzi, an agro firm listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, more than doubled its profits from avocado during the period to Sh654.8 million up from Sh288.6 million in 2022 with exports to Europe and China peaking.
The fresh ban mirrors the four-month-long ban that the directorate slapped on avocado exports in November 2021 over similar concerns of immature fruit.
“Harvesting and export of immature avocadoes have negatively impacted on the image of Kenyan avocadoes in overseas markets in addition to interfering with the cropping cycle of the trees thereby reducing projected volumes in subsequent harvests,” said at the time.
Kenya is one of the leading producers of avocados in Africa.
As of the end of 2021, Kenya was listed among the biggest avocado-producing countries in the world at position 15.
With a production of 417,000 tonnes, the country tops Africa as Mexico takes the lead with 2.4 million tonnes at the global level.
Avocados are the country’s largest export fruit followed by pineapples, mangoes, raspberries, passion fruits, and lemons.
Some of the leading destinations for the Kenyan avocado include the Netherlands, United Arab Emirates (UAE), France, Spain, Turkey, China, Germany and the UK.
Read: State eyes Western Kenya for avocado exports boost
The ban comes as Kenya seeks to expand its export market for the fruit to boost foreign exchange earnings.
In September this year, Kenya exported its first shipment of avocado fruit to India after eight years of negotiations.
Temporary export bans are one of the main avenues Kenya uses to deter premature harvesting of avocados, which leads to the export of low-quality fruit.
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