Kenya’s avocado exports rise by 15% while fish imports from China halves

KENYA – Kenya has earned Ksh 14 billion (US$128m) from the exports of 68,000 tonnes of avocado since beginning of the year to October, a 15% rise from previous year’s 59,000 tons which netted Ksh. 10 billion (US$91.5m), during the same period under review.

The improved performance according to the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) Chief Executive Officer, Hosea Machuki is attributed to adoption of higher international quality standards.

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According to reports by Fresh Plaza, the rise was also driven by the expansion of area under cultivation with farmers outside traditional growing zones embracing the fruit.

“We have stopped export of avocado starting today to allow the current crop that is in the farm to mature and protect our overseas market.”

Head of Horticulture Directorate – Benjamin Tito

Avocado is a key foreign exchange earner in the country as it accounts for about one-fifth of the total horticultural exports and raking in nearly half of the total returns from fruits.

Industry players have been enforcing quality standards amid pressure to deal with cartels which are seeking to profiteer from a high global demand for avocado.

To this end, the horticulture regulator has banned the export of two popular avocado varieties i.e. Fuerte and Hass to curb harvesting of immature crop. Growers will still be able to export the less popular Jumbo variety.

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The ban follows rampant cases of traders picking young crops, encouraged by high prices of the commodity at the international market.

“We have stopped export of avocado starting today to allow the current crop that is in the farm to mature and protect our overseas market,” Head of Horticulture Directorate Benjamin Tito said.

The avocado export market in Kenya is dominated by five major exporters: Kakuzi, Vegpro, Sunripe, Kenya Horticultural Exporters, and East African Growers.

These companies source their avocados primarily from smallholder farmers, although some firms also source from larger growers or own plantations.

The export destinations for the produce are the European and Middle Eastern countries with China poising as a lucrative market following the slashing of export duty levy from 30% to 7% by the Chinese government earlier in the year.

Kenya’s fish imports from China decline

Meanwhile, Kenya’s fish trade with the Asian country, China has registered a decline of almost 50% in imports.

According to reports by The Nation, Covid-19 pandemic has handed Kenyan fishermen an unexpected boon after fish imports from China dropped to Sh993.62 million (US$9m) in the last nine months of the year, compared to the Sh2.03 billion (US$18.5m) in 2019.

Data on fish trade from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that China’s fish exports to Kenya dropped as a result of the global supply chain disruption occasioned by the pandemic.

During the period the East African country imported 8,900 tonnes of fresh chilled fish, a decline from 18, 074 tonnes in 2019.

This is the second time Chinese fish imports have dropped in the last eight years, having previously recorded near double digit growth, adding impetus to concerns that the Asian nation is flooding the local market with sea food to the detriment of local fishermen.

Despite the drop, China still accounted for almost 90 per cent of the fish imports into the country. Frozen tilapia and mackerel were the most imported.

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