Russian boycott of EU products opens market for Kenyan farmers

Avocado photo by mt-kenya-avocado-farmer.jpg

A farmer with harvested avocados. Russia's boycott of farm produce from EU presents a market opportunity for Kenya. Photo by Mt Kenya Avocados.

Russia’s continued boycott of European Union products presents an all-year round market opportunity for the Kenyan horticultural farmers in the export industry.

Monica Kamau of Kankam Exporters said Russia has a potential of consuming the excess produce that may not go to the traditional market like the USA and the EU.

Russia started boycotting importing vegetables and fruits from the EU in 2014. That was after the EU and the US imposed sanctions on Russia in March 2014 protesting against the former Soviet Union members’ invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

In 2013, the total dairy, vegetable and fruits export from EU to Russia was about Sh603.2 billion (5.2 billion Euros).

“Russia has become much more important for Kenya since they started boycotting European products,” Kamau told FreshPlaza.

In responses to the sanctions, Russia also subsidised inputs for farmers, which has since increased grain and livestock production by 16 per cent and over 45 per cent respectively.

Kankam grows its own crops for export including avocados, mangoes and other vegetables.

The company also buys the harvests from farmers to meet its market demand in Germany, Spain, Russia, Middle East, Netherlands, France, Lebanon, among others.

The produce, which is collected from farmers, is packed and refrigerated for shipment.

Besides its 50 acres, Kankam has a combined acreage of 250 among smallholders.

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The main avocado varieties the company exports are fuerte and hass. And she says the Kenyan avocado has a better flavour than its main competitors – Peru and Chile.

Kenya avocado export to South Africa was banned in 2010 over farm hygiene concerns. Expanding to the Russian market may boost farmer’s revenues.

The harvest period for the avocados starts in March until August. Peru is the main competitor in the export market, although this year the South American Country reported delays of harvest due to bad weather in March.

This effectively gives Kenya a window of less competition until the harvest expected to hit the market from June.