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Kenyan agricultural traders eye market opportunities through CIIE

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The sixth China International Import Expo (CIIE) was held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10, 2023.

As the world’s first national-level import-themed trade fair, the China International Import Expo (CIIE), which has been described by numerous industry players as a major platform for international procurement, investment promotion, cultural exchanges and open cooperation, has been held every November since its inception in 2018 – a total of six years.

Over the years, companies from 173 countries and regions have participated in the CIIE and achieved $424.23 billion in tentative transactions. More than 2,400 new products, technologies and services have debuted at past editions of the event.

Kenyan agricultural producers reap fruits of CIIE

In a lush avocado orchard on the shores of Lake Naivasha in Nakuru County, Kenya, more than 2,500 avocado trees stretched as far as the eye could see. Richard Wafula, owner of the farm, was busy harvesting avocados with his workers.

“Soon, approximately 10 containers of fresh avocados will be delivered to Chinese consumers from here,” he said.

Kenya has been shipping frozen avocados to China since 2019, but used CIIE 2022 to showcase its fresh avocados and increase exports. Now, 30% of Kenya’s fresh avocado exports are destined for China, rising from US $1.08 million in 2022 to US $7.60 million within the first nine months of 2023, marking another remarkable chapter in China-Africa cooperation.

Kenya is the largest exporter of avocados in Africa. Currently, 30 percent of the country’s avocados are exported to China, and this number is expected to continue growing in the future.

Trade with China has brought considerable changes to the lives of Kenyan farmers. According to the local agricultural department, avocado exports to China are estimated to increase the annual incomes of local farmers by 30 percent to 50 percent.

Tuwei explained that, in the past, he had to borrow money from friends to pay for his children’s tuition. But now, with a stable income from avocado farming, he can comfortably cover his daily expenses, and his quality of life has improved significantly.

According to German database company Statista, the Chinese market will stimulate avocado production in Kenya by both small- and large-scale farmers, boosting incomes at the household level and increasing investment in agro-processing.

Du Gongming, General Manager of the African business division of Shanghai-based Greenchain Information Science and Technology (Greenchain), noted that after the successful export of fresh avocado to China in 2022, many Kenyan farmers started switching to avocado farming, hoping for more cooperation with China.

“We believe that in the future, Kenyan farmers will not only export more avocados but also other fresh produce such as mangoes, bananas, coffee, and flowers to China through the annual CIIE,” said Kello Harsama, principal secretary of the State Department for Crop Development of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.


Kenyan avocados are on display at the sixth CIIE in 2023.

Hongqiao International Economic Forum spotlights agricultural trade

As a crucial part of the expo, the sixth Hongqiao International Economic Forum, also known as the Hongqiao Forum, saw a record attendance of over 8,000 people and featured 22 sub-forums on a range of subjects.

A parallel session on agricultural services trade invited high-profile government officials, academicians, and senior executives of industrial pacesetters from around the world to share insights into the industry’s growth and the resilience of global supply chains.

Developing the agricultural services trade is an effective way to address global risks and challenges and enhance the resilience of the agricultural industry and supply chains, said Ma Youxiang, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, during the session.

“The world should work together to optimize the trade environment for agricultural services, strengthen innovation-driven development to improve the agricultural services trade and refine cooperation mechanisms to tap into opportunities brought about by agricultural services trade,” Ma added.

To make the forum more productive and impactful, organizers held a symposium in Beijing in early March and invited more than 130 important figures, including UN representatives, government officials and scholars, to contribute to this year’s themes and topics.

CIIE 2024 welcomes more companies to the vast Chinese market

The seventh CIIE is launching a global roadshow on April 22 in Kenya for companies with a keen interest in exporting their premium products to China.

Sun Chenghai, Deputy Director-General of the CIIE bureau, announced that preparations for the seventh edition of the fair are now in full swing.

“So far, nearly 270,000 square meters of the business exhibition area have been booked by early exhibitors, outpacing that of the sixth edition,” Sun added. “We expect more global brands to participate in this year’s trade fair and reap strong returns from the vast Chinese market.”

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