Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Kenyan avocado farmers can now export their fruits after the government lifted the ban on exports of avocados last week. Speaking in Nairobi, Agriculture and Food Authority’s (Afa) Director General, Alfred Busolo said that they have decided to lift the ban, which was effected last year December because the fruits are now on season.
“Farmers can now export Fuerte variety at the moment while Hass variety exportation will begin next month because currently Hass Avocado fruits are immature,” he said.
However, he urged Kenya Plant Inspectorate Service (Kephis)— the parastatal responsible for ensuring quality of agricultural inputs and produce— to monitor the harvesting process to prevent immature fruits from reaching the market. “I would urge all farmers who are in the export market to ensure that they have a clearance certificate from Kephis otherwise their products will not be exported,” he added.
And to ensure that only mature avocados are exported, Afa has set the below criteria for mature avocado, among others include a dull appearance of the skin for the Fuerte variety of avocado; with a shrivelling and yellowing of the fruit stalk.
Further, when cut and the seed is removed, the seed coat should be dark brown and dry and does not adhere to the flesh. The fruit should also contain at least 20 per cent dry matter content and oil content of eight per cent and above.
Fresh produce exporter companies such as Selina Wamucii (Kenya) Ltd have welcomed the move, terming it as a sigh of relief to the sector and the farmers. “It’s definitely good news for the small family growers who produce over 70 per cent of avocado that is exported from Kenya,” said Selina Wamucii CEO, John Oroko.
He said the ban was a wake-up call for exporters as was imposed to stop exporters from shipping out immature crop because of high demand in the world market.
“We are now getting into the main avocado season and hope that all industry players comply with the export requirements. The responsibility is now on the exporters to follow the protocols to avoid any future suspensions,” he added.