China receives 55 tonnes of Kenyan omena, more on the way

Mercyline Auma drying fresh omena from lake Victoria at Homabay pier market. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

China's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Department of African Affairs Director-General, Wu Peng, took to Twitter this week to announce the arrival of a 52-tonne shipment of Kenyan omena (anchovy) in China, with more shipments en route.

Wu Peng, a former Chinese ambassador to Kenya, emphasised the positive impact of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Green Channel for African Agricultural Exports to China on both African and Chinese citizens.

The dried anchovies completed their one-month journey across the ocean and along the Yangtze River, ultimately reaching the city of Yueyang. Changsha Customs, responsible for the quarantine and clearance of the fish, ensured their safe arrival.

FOCAC serves as the official forum for engagement between the People's Republic of China and all African states, with the exception of Eswatini which has close ties with Taiwan.

The Green Channel initiative was one of nine programs announced by President Xi Jinping at the Eighth Ministerial FOCAC Conference held in Dakar, Senegal, from November 29 to 30, 2021. During the conference, President Xi Jinping pledged China's commitment to various programs, including trade promotion, under the first three-year plan of the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035.

Under this program, President Xi Jinping committed to facilitating "green lanes" for African agricultural exports to China, streamlining inspection and quarantine procedures, and expanding the range of products eligible for zero-tariff treatment for the least developed countries with diplomatic relations with China. The aim was to achieve $300 billion in total imports from Africa within three years, by 2024.

China initiated anchovy imports from Kenya in June, with the first batch weighing 315kg arriving in Hunan by air. Jinzai Food Group, a snack company based in Hunan, purchased the anchovies and plans to use them to create a popular Hunan-flavored snack at their factory. The company has also established a processing, drying, and packaging facility in Kenya to prepare anchovies for the Chinese market.

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