Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), which facilitates the development, promotion, coordination and regulation of the horticultural sub-sector in Kenya, has banned the export of hass and fuerte avocadoes which are the main exported avocado varieties in Kenya due to severe shortage leading to immature fruits in the market.
According to the directorate the two varieties of avocados are off-season and farmers may be attempted to harvest immature fruits in order to meet the high export target.
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“We have stopped the export of Fuerte and Hass varieties because traders would ship out immature crop because of high demand in the world market. However, we are going to lift the ban starting next month once harvesting starts,” said Josphine Simiyu, head of Regulations and Compliance at HCD.
“The main season for Kenya avocados is March to September with Fuerte avocadoes available from February and Hass variety being available from March. However, it is worth noting that given the tropical climate and different avocado growing zones in Kenya, there are fruits throughout the year although in smaller quantities outside the main season period.”
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The shortage has led to the rise of avocadoes in the local markets with 90kg bag of avocado going at Sh2, 560 in December last year. A single avocado fruit is currently selling for between Sh50 and Sh80 in Nairobi’s retail markets; this is far much higher as compared Sh10 and Sh20 each during high season.
“Kenya is now Africa’s second largest avocado growing and exporting country in Africa, after South Africa and we hope the export of avocadoes will be back as normal soon,” said Simiyu.
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“I cannot say farmers and traders in avocadoes are affected because this is a situation I want to believe they are aware of and we cannot lower our standards by exporting substandard fruits that will ruin our reputation in the global market,” said Simiyu.
According to Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) avocados contribute about seven per cent of total fruit export to the global market in Kenya but the production has remained constant or increase slowly. Last year for example, 461.1 tonnes worth Sh7.1bn was produced as compared to 387.2 tonnes worth Sh5.4bn in 2016.