As the Codling Moth pest continues to impact negatively business in the European Union (EU), Kenyan chilli producers and exporters are now eying the Middle East in a bid to continue participating in export markets and grow their income.
According to Ojepati Okesegere, chief executive at Fresh Producers Consortium of Kenya, over 90 per cent of the firms that used to export chilli to Europe have stopped because of the presence of Codling Moth pest that is a quarantine pest in Europe.
“These exporters have now stopped exporting to the bloc for fear of rejection as Codling Moth pest has been a quarantine pest in Europe,” said Okisegere.
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For the exporters to meet the requirements for the lucrative market, they need to put in place a costly mechanism to contain the pest.
These include fumigation using phosphine gas, create a pest-free zone that the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) has to approve or export dry chilli.
“Dry chilli cannot fetch a good price as the fresh one would. That is why most firms are avoiding this option,” Mr Okesegere told the Business Daily an interview.
Drying of chilli. Photo courtesy.
Some producers and marketer of chilli such as Afya Choice at the moment have resorted to drying, processing and packaging of the produce and sell to some key local markets.
“We are currently selling to Village Market Mall in Nairobi and Smarthome Supermarket in Kiambu County where though the prices are low as compared to international markets, our farmers are sure of getting their money within the shortest time possible,” said said George Gathuru, value addition officer at the firm.
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Kenya’s horticultural produce is continually facing challenges in the international markets because of the phytosanitary requirements.
For instance, local avocado has been given stringent rules to adhere to before it accesses the lucrative Chinese market.
Under a deal agreed in April between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Kenya would only be allowed to export frozen avocado as a way of taming fruit flies, which are common in Kenya.
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The Kephis is still trying to come up with the remedy for controlling the moth now posing a serious threat to the sector
Australia has also tightened rules on local flowers to enforce fumigation as required by the law.