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Farmers now want Kenya-China avocado deal reviewed over stringent rules

By Kamau Maichuhie | May 20th 2019 | 2 min read
By Kamau Maichuhie | May 20th 2019
Hass avocados.

Avocado farmers in Kiambu County now want a recent deal signed between Kenya and Chinese government for the importation of hass avocados reviewed.

The farmers have faulted the stringent entry rules imposed by the Chinese government before Kenyan produce can access their market.

They said the recent deal between Kenya and China for the exportation of the fruit was not in favor of the county adding small scale avocado farmers are likely to miss out.

Under the deal, farmers will be required to install machines and coolers for peeling and freezing of the fruit before it is exported.

China also wants Kenyan farmers and traders to freeze the fruits to negative 30 degrees Celsius after peeling off the skin and chill further to negative 18 degrees while in transit.

John Karanja, an avocado farmer in Githunguri, Kiambu, said the stringent measures by the Chinese government would keep away many potential farmers from directly exporting the produce.

“We wonder why they have put such stringent measures that many of us cannot be able to meet. When the deal was signed we were very optimistic that we would finally get ample market for our produce. It seems we were wrong” said Karanja.

Martin Mbugua another avocado farmer in Lari, called for government intervention to relax the requirements by the Chinese authorities.

He said failure to review the rules will see the trade deal collapse adding not many small-scale avocado farmers will be able to meet them.

“It is our belief that President Uhuru Kenyatta meant well when he signed the deal. We are therefore as farmers appealing to him to intervene so that the stringent rules can be relaxed” said Mr Mbugua.

Another farmer Agnes Wanjiku said the deal only came to favor the large scale avocado farmers who could afford to meet the requirements.

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) which will oversee the export of avocados admitted the conditions set by China could end up limiting small-scale farmers in the country from accessing the market.

KEPHIS Managing director Esther Kimani said many small scale farmers cannot afford to sell their avocados to China but added they can still sell it to other local firms making avocado products.

“China will suspend the exports if we do not comply with the rules. Continuous con-compliance will definitely lead to a total ban” she said.

She however added farmers are being encouraged to familiarise themselves with the new export measures and apply for permits from KEPHIS so as to export avocados to China

Thika MP Patrick Wainaina also faulted the stringent entry rules saying they would frustrate the trade deal.

The deal to pave way for the exportation of hass avocados to China was signed last month in China between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

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