South Africa has re-opened its market to Kenya’s avocado exports, ending more than 10 years of standoff that began over quality concerns.
Kenya lost the market in 2007 after South Africa claimed its key producing areas had experienced fruit fly infestation.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) says it engaged South Africa in long negotiations, leading to the change of heart.
Inspectors from South Africa have been visiting the county since the ban was put in place to assess the progress that Kenya had made in regard to curbing the fruit fly pest.
Under the new market access deal, all South Africa-bound exporters must be registered and approved by Kephis. The agency will audit their farms and pack houses to confirm compliance with quality benchmarks of Pretoria.
“Kephis, together with Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) have established pest-free areas to mitigate the effects of pests on horticultural produce as a measure to eliminate the insects,” said Kephis managing director Esther Kimani in a statement.
The pest-free areas are in Elgeyo Marakwet in Rift Valley, Tharaka Nithi in central Kenya and some parts of the Coast.
Most parts of the country have potential to produce the required volumes, but farmers lack knowledge and information on the variety of fruits suitable for export.
The resumption on exports comes at a time when there is sufficient produce in the market, five months after the ban on avocado export was lifted by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).
The ban was put in place following a shortage last year as a result of drought. The unavailability in the market saw traders harvest immature crop to cash in on high demand in the world market.
The price of Kenya’s avocado to Dubai dropped by almost half in March.
The Directorate of Horticulture indicated that the price of a unit of avocado dropped from 35 dirhams ($9) to 16 dirhams ($4) in March.
The decline resulted from the low quality avocados that were being exported to Dubai by unscrupulous businessmen following high demand of the fruit in the world market.