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Horticulture directorate revises avocado export harvesting requirements

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By George Munene

The Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) has reviewed the minimum avocado dry matter percentage (DM%) post-harvest to 24 per cent for Hass and Fuerte avocadoes meant for export. 

This is in lieu of the numerous complaints received on the quality of avocados imported to the European Union and the United Arab Emirates.

“We are looking to safeguard these critical markets, improve fruit quality aspects in line with global market requirements and safeguard Kenya’s competitiveness in the global arena. With this in mind, we would urge all avocado value chain actors to comply with this directive,” read part of a statement from the HCD.

Through the Agriculture and Food Authority of Kenya, farmers were also advised to adhere to Harvest and Post-Harvesting handling that conforms to Good Handling Practices.

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Measuring avocado dry matter content is a precise way of detecting maturity that ensures only mature fruits are picked and that their flavour profile is fully developed. 

Dry matter percentage is determined by maturity at harvest and varies with region, season, variety, and consumer taste. 

Last year, the agriculture ministry briefly barred avocado exports due to the harvesting and export of immature fruits. This has had a negative impact on the image of the country in overseas markets as well as interfering with the cropping cycle of trees which reduces projected volumes in subsequent harvests.

Related News: Global avocado demand projected to double by 2024.

In a consumer research study on the effects of dry matter percentage (DM%), the acceptance of the quality of avocados declined from approximately 95% to 70% if the DM was below 23% and up to 70% of consumers would choose 26% DM avocados over 22% DM avocados.

Avocado remains Kenya’s main fruit export. 85 million kilograms of avocados were shipped from the country in 2021 netting Sh14.4 billion. The leading destinations for Kenya’s avocado were the UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Holland, and France. 

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