Exporters of fresh produce have decried massive losses due to rogue importers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) market.
The exporters realised they have so many clients who purport to be genuine but are conmen who have been ordering produce from Kenya and not paying them.
According to the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC-K), on average three containers of fresh produce are lost every week to unsuspecting and rogue importers.
FPC-K Chief Executive Okisegere Ojepat said each container on the minimum cost Sh3 million.
“Those losses must be stopped and we will engage the embassy to get Kenyans interests secured. We are determined to grow the export business by 25 per cent which can only happen when they get the desired returns,” said 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 was not selling as it used to. They always give excuses for quality issues; they send us credit notes. We found some of them do not have a place for business,” said Ojepat.
The scammers lure people with good prices but at the point of agreement, they end up not paying, therefore people have been losing a lot of money from avocados, mangoes, other fruits, and vegetables.
Open office in Dubai
Ojepat said they also realised they lacked sufficient representation in Dubai and from October FPC-K is opening an office there to monitor and give information and the missing links in the market.
“We have agreed with our mission there and the leadership in Dubai that they are going to help us vet every importer on the other side. We will also vet our people from here to ensure we send the right volumes, have proper documentation so that we get revenue for the hard work, create jobs, and feed the world with our quality,” he said.
Dubai is an importer and they have disposable income and therefore the country can sell its bananas, onions, tomatoes, peas, beans, and other foods.
The balance of trade between the two nations heavily favours the UAE. Kenya mainly exports tea, spices, goat meat, coffee, and fresh-cut flowers and imports petroleum fuels, manufactured articles, textiles plastics, and electronic goods from the Middle East nation.
Kenya’s exports to the UAE stood at Sh19.2 billion last year, against Sh92.7 billion imports, making it the third-largest exporter to Kenya after China and India.
“The advantage Kenya has is that it is only four hours away from Dubai by air and a maximum of 11 days from UAE. Some competitors like Mexico have a turnaround time of 25 days, meaning we will always be the ones who have the advantage to place more products in the market, fresher with proper shelf life,” said Ojepat.
He added: “We will have to identify every broker and find where they source from, for those not toeing the line we will have to stop them and take legal action against them because we are not going to allow brokers to spoil the business for us.”
Young people hold key to solving food crisis FAO says