Guests having a glance of some of the products shocased by various exhibitors during the National Avocado Ehibition and Conference at Murang’a University of Technology. Photo: Oyugi Zablon.
Avocado Society of Kenya is encouraging farmers to venture and increase commercial production of the crop as the country expect more export market from China.
The country has been exporting its avocadoes to EU countries, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Middle East and South Africa among others. However, following a Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement signed between Kenya and china, farmers and traders in Kenya may soon access Chinese avocado market.
According to Daniel Kiprotich Chemno, deputy governor, Uasin Gishu County who was also among the delegation which accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta to China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai last year where the deal was signed, Kenya has a big potential market for avocadoes in the country.
“Imagine over one billion people in China and how to satisfy them with avocadoes for their consumption and still meet production demand for other countries! This is why there is need for more farmers to grow the fruit,” said Kiprotich who was among the chief guests during The 4th National Avocado Conference and Exhibition last Friday at Murang’a University of Technology organized by the Avocado Society of Kenya.
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Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) has already invited Chinese experts to conduct risk analysis and field visits during avocado harvesting season as part of China’s recommendation before it opens up its market to Kenya.
The visit would seek to comprehend farm management, picking, packaging and certification system of the popular fruit.
The experts will be hosted at avocado farms in Kakuzi, Embu, Murang’a, Uasin Gichu, and Trans Nzoia before they are taken to the airport to see how inspection of the fruit and other crops is conducted.
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Kenya produces an average of 191,000 tonnes of avocados per year, 70 percent of which is grown by small-scale farmers, according to Following Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Avocado contributes seven per cent of Kenya’s total fruit export to the global market but the production has been slow over the years.
Farm production stood at 230,948 tonnes in 2015, rising slightly to 246,057 tonnes in 2016.
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In addition, avocado farmers have been urged to ensure that their production is up to standard to meet international market requirements.
“We cannot afford to lose any avocado export market due to poor production and negligent by either farmers or traders as it happened before with South African market which, fortunately, we have won back,” Said Mr. George Momanyi, Kephis.
Kenya lost the market in 2007 after South Africa claimed that most of the key fruit production areas in the country were infested with fruit fly but the export market was reopened in August last year ending more than 10 years of standoff thanks to Kephis, together with Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) intervention.