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Exporters lose millions to UAE rogue importers

By Jennifer Anyango | October 1st 2021
Okisegere Ojepat Chief Executive Officer Fresh Produce Consortium Of Kenya. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Kenyan exporters of fresh produce are counting massive losses at the hands of rogue buyers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The exporters said there are rising cases of rogue businessmen from the Gulf country posing as buyers only to vanish into thin air once they receive the produce.

According to the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK), on average three containers of fresh produce to UAE are lost every week with no recompense to exporters.

FPCK Chief Executive Okisegere Ojepat said each container full of fresh produce is valued at Sh3 million.

“Those losses must be stopped, and we are engaging the Kenyan embassy in UAE to secure the interests of Kenyans. We are determined to grow the export business by 25 per cent, which can only happen when they get the desired returns,” said Mr Ojepat.

He said they visited Dubai to ascertain why sales had gone down.

“The reason why we went to Dubai was to check why our fresh produce is not selling as it used to. They (UAE importers) always give excuses of quality issues; they send us credit notes, but we found out that some of them do not have a place for business,” said Ojepat.

The scammers lure Kenyan exporters with the promise of good prices but end up not paying once they receive the goods.

Kenya is a major exporter of fresh produce, including avocadoes, mangoes and other fruits, as well as vegetables.

Kenyan exporters have been forced to look for new markets in the US, China, Thailand, the Middle East and India ahead of the 2022 implementation of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Policy.

The search for new markets is informed by expected losses of Sh105 billion annually if the country adopts the new policy.

The concern stems from a petition in the National Assembly by Uasin Gishu Women Representative Gladys Boss that seeks to ban the use of some pesticides locally, which are outlawed in other countries in the production of fresh produce.

The petition wants the National Assembly to ban all products in the Kenyan market classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic and all others that show the effect on reproduction toxicity.

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