Relief for farmers as avocado exports resume on March 1

Avocado for export at a farm in Gatitu, Nyeri County. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

The horticulture regulator will open the export window for avocados to overseas markets on March 1.

In a notice to all dealers of avocado, the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) through the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) said it has now established improvement in maturity of the avocado fruits in the major production zones.

“The harvesting of avocado for export will be opened on March 1, 2024. All export produce will be subject to inspection by AFA-HCD inspectors. Exporters are required to apply for inspection at least three days prior to shipment,” the notice reads.

AFA said the export of Hass and Fuerte varieties will continue but limited to a maximum size code 20 (184g). 

All exporters are required to submit a list of their Horticultural Produce Marketing Agents (HPMA) or suppliers before February 26, 2024, and exporters are required to strictly transact with marketing agents with valid registration permits. 

AFA and HCD warned that exporters or their agents found transporting avocado without crates or on open pick-up trucks (or Probox vehicles) contrary to the horticulture regulations shall be penalized. 

“All Avocado Dealers should take full responsibility of production and post-production processes to guarantee compliance to regulatory and market requirements,” the notice says.

The directorate undertook an avocado field survey from January 7 to January 12, 2024, to ascertain maturity indices and volumes of the avocado fruit in major production zones. The fruits were deemed insufficient then, and therefore necessitated an extension of restriction on avocado shipment by sea.

AFA acting Director General Christine Chesaro in January said the main avocado season in the country starts around mid-March to November and harvesting of the fruit beyond these months is managed and guided through a survey. She said there is a reason why they intervene.

“If we do not close the window of harvesting avocados when the season ends, we are afraid people will start harvesting immature avocados because they want to make money,” Chesaro said.

“Most likely it is not even the farmers' wish but the brokers,” she added.

The AFA acting Director General said failure to manage the closure and opening of the season could mess the export market.

Between December and February (when the harvesting window is closed), HCD normally does a survey to check how the field is performing.

“If we find out that there are mature avocados and there is adequate volume, we open the window for harvesting briefly for either a few weeks or a month, and then we close again,” Chesaro said.

By Brian Ngugi 10 hrs ago
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