Avocado farmers in Kenya, a majority who are small scale traders, have suffered a major setback after from the multilateral agency International Trade Centre, suspended the export of the fruit indefinitely, barely months after Kenya and China signed a deal allowing local farmers to export frozen avocado to China,
Kenya is one of the largest exporters of Avocado exporters in Africa. Last year the demand for avocados rose steadily with more customers demanding. Avocado’s popularity around the world has grown in recent years due to increased awareness of its nutritious value and health benefits.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) the lead Government Agency which oversees the export of avocados has been agile in trying to restore China’s confidence in Kenyan avocados and help small scale farmers tap into this lucrative market. But the curtains started falling in when a number of companies and individual farmers flouted the rules of exporting the fruit.
“The directorate has been forced to implement stringent rules to safeguard our export market and all avocado varieties have been suspended until further notice. The enforcement of this restriction is to ensure quality products are produced and marketed. Harvesting and export of immature avocado have negatively affected Kenyan image in overseas markets,” read the notice to all avocado exporters by the nterim head of Horticultural Crops Directorate Bernard Ondanje.
Some of the companies which were contracted farmers across the country are said to have been the death of avocado farmers for putting pressure on farmers to harvest premature fruit in a bid to make a killing from the huge Chinese market.
Farmers will be forced to sell their avocados locally at a throwaway price, if they are to make it alive.