Kenyan fresh produce exporters ready inaugural fresh avocado exports to China

KENYA – The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) has confirmed that the Chinese National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) has so far approved 15 orchards, 9 packhouses and one fumigation facility, to export fresh avocado to China.

Fresh food producer and exporter Kakuzi Plc is among the firms that have received the nod to export the fruit to the Asian market.

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To this end, the firm has commenced the field harvesting and pre-shipment preparation for an inaugural Hass variety avocado consignment to be shipped out to China.

The test run involving field harvests, post-harvest packaging and phytosanitary management per Chinese phytosanitary protocols, will enable the firm to fine-tune its internal processes in conjunction with the shipping and related agencies.

“The field harvests have started, and we hope to prepare the first consignment to be shipped to China this weekend.

“In this trial phase, we intend to test the entire system capacity and fix any challenges between ourselves, the phytosanitary protocols facility and KEPHIS ahead of the planned larger shipments before the end of the next quarter,” Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Mr Chris Flowers said.

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The export of fresh avocados to China follows the early January signing of two protocols to facilitate bilateral trade, mainly the export of avocados and aquatic products from Kenya to China.

Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Hon. Peter Munya and the Chinese Ambassador H.E. Zhou Pingjian signed the protocols in Mombasa.

The agreement gives specific import requirements based on a systems approach strategy and post-harvest treatment (fumigation with methyl bromide) for managing nine quarantine pests of concern to China.

While describing the Chinese market as highly discerning and quality conscious, Flowers confirmed that local avocado growers, including small-scale out-growers and exporters, are well-positioned to explore the far east market as long as they adhere to the regulations laid down by KEPHIS.

“Currently, the Chinese market is relatively small compared to the European market. We hope that by exposing the discerning Chinese consumer to high-quality fruit from Kenya, that market will outpace the current exports into Europe,” Flowers said. Adding that “the potential to grow the Chinese market demand is huge; if we maintain the highest quality standards for our exports.”

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Kenya outs up hot water treatment facility to boost horticultural exports

Meanwhile, the government of Kenya through the Agriculture and Food Authority [AFA], has planned to launch a hot water treatment facility in Nairobi to boost export of Kenya’s horticulture products to international markets.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya said the hot water treatment plant is a viable intervention for the fruit fly issue and by establishing this facility, Kenya will not only increase mango quality and value but will also be able to enter other lucrative markets.

Speaking at the Horticulture and Crops Directorate [HCD] headquarters, he said the fruit fly had been a hurdle even forcing the country to enact a self-imposed ban on mango exports in 2015.

“The volume exported that year was 14,047,648 MT valued at ksh 1.61 billion. Since then, the volume exported decreased to 7,114,721 MT in 2020 valued at ksh1.05 billion,” he said.

Subsequent to a series of successful interventions including the establishment of pest free areas and areas of low pest preference in select counties, Kenya was able to ship its first mango consignment to Italy in 2021 since the self-ban was effected.

“Following this development, the volume exported rose to 10,378,480 MT valued at ksh1.716 billion. Kenya is now at a trajectory phase to regain its market share in EU and win more markets. Fresh horticultural exports have continued to be one of the leading foreign exchange income earners for the country,” Munya said.

Hot water treatment is the dipping of fruits in hot water of specific temperature for specified periods for the purpose of disease control, insect disinfestations or uniform ripening’.

It was originally used for fungal control, but has been extended to disinfestations of insects and is an approved quarantine treatment for export of many fruits and vegetables against pests.

It reduces decay development and maintains fruit quality after subsequent prolonged storage and shelf-life.

This technology cleans and disinfects the freshly harvested produce at a relatively high temperature of 45-62°C, with the produce passing over revolving brushes for a very short time of 15-25 seconds.

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