KENYA – Kenyan avocado growers and exporters eye the Malaysian market as a delegation from the Asian nation is reported to have jetted into the country to carry out pest risk analysis.

Experts from the Department of Malaysia Quarantine and Inspection Services will carry out verification audits on avocado orchards and pack houses as part of Pest Risk Analysis (PRA).

They are also interested in evaluating the avocado export certification process to other market destinations. This forms part of the process of ensuring market requirements are met before exports can start.

In addition to farms and pack houses, the Malaysians will visit Kenya’s main export exit point the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The audit team from Malaysia’s National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), has already concluded pest-risk and field assessments at the farm and facilities of Kenyan listed agri-business firm, Kakuzi Plc.

The Kenya Plant Health inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) says it hopes for positive findings that will enable avocado exports to the Asian nation as this will be a boost after China opened a fresh avocado market to the country earlier this month.

The Malaysian delegation is the latest yet to carry out an inspection tour on Kenyan orchards and processing facilities after India and Mauritius delegations conducted a similar analysis in the past few weeks.

The Asian nation is seeking to import the Fuerte and Hass varieties from Kenya by the end of this year.

Kenya is seeking to increase its horticultural exports and diversify its market from Europe in a bid to boost earnings.

Its horticulture export earnings in the first half of the year declined by 40 per cent to Ksh48.4 billion (US$405m) from Ksh80.7 billion (US$675.5m) on the back of reduced returns from all categorise.

Earnings from fruits dropped from Ksh12 billion (US$100m) last year to Ksh5.6 billion (US$46.8m) in the half period under review, while vegetables raked in Kshh5.4 billion (US$45.2m) from Ksh15.5 billion (US$129.75m) previously. Returns from flowers fell from Ksh53.2 billion last year to Ksh37.3 billion (US$445.3m).

According to the Horticulture Directorate, the value of export produce was majorly pulled down by a decline in volume and lower quality avocado in the first quarter of the year as the exported products were not mature enough.

This led to low value realised and more rejections of the produce in the world market.

Data from the directorate reveal that volume of fruits dropped from 82.1 million kilogrammes to 44 million kilos in the review period.

The leading export destinations for all the Kenyan horticultural produce are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, the Middle East and the Far East.

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