Beginning from Friday, the government of Kenya has declared the stoppage of the exportation of avocados in order to allow room for the fruits to mature as part of measures to protect Kenya’s lucrative export market.
The announcement was delivered in a notice on Tuesday in which the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) discontinued the export of Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo avocado varieties by sea starting November 3rd, 2023. This also comes months after the American government expressed its willingness to support Kenya in expanding its avocado export market under a $160 million initiative.
However, the directorate has authorized the shipment of avocados by air, including those that are traveling from other members of the East African Community (EAC). According to the directorate, the choice was made in response to a study it conducted to verify the maturity indices of avocado fruits in the main production zones.
“Following the findings of the survey, we hereby notify the Kenyan avocado stakeholders that the closing of Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo harvesting season and export by sea for the 2023/2024 fiscal year shall be in force with effect from November 3, 2023,” said HCD acting Director-General Willis Audi.
He added that “Export clearance (including fruit consignments from the EAC region) shall be granted for air shipment, subject to inspection by the Directorate. Traceability information will be required for all consignments.”
Kenya employs temporary export prohibitions as one of its primary strategies to prevent avocados from being harvested too soon, which results in the export of inferior fruit. This occurs at a time when avocado demand has increased dramatically in recent years.
For example, Kakuzi, an agricultural company listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), more than doubled its avocado profits in the six months leading up to June 2023, reaching Ksh654.8 million ($4.35 million), from Ksh288.6 million ($1.92 million) in 2022, with a peak in exports to China and Europe.
In the three months leading up to May, Kenyan shipments of avocados to China reached Sh9 billion, beating fierce competition from Chile, the world’s top exporter of the fruit. Between March and May of this year, Kenya sent seven million kilograms to Beijing as more farms and pack houses entered the lucrative Chinese market.