In an effort to safeguard its thriving avocado export industry, the Kenyan government has made the decision to temporarily suspend the sea export of certain avocado varieties, including Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo.
The suspension will take effect from November 3, 2023, and is part of a broader strategy to allow the avocados to reach their optimal maturity before being sent to international markets.
The Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) announced this temporary ban through an official notice released on Tuesday.
The ban, set to be in force for the 2023/2024 fiscal year, has been imposed after careful consideration of the survey conducted by the Directorate to assess the maturity indices of avocado fruits in major production zones.
HCD's acting Director-General, Willis Audi, emphasized the necessity of this decision, citing the results of a comprehensive survey that authenticated the maturity indices of avocados in the primary production areas.
"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."
Audi emphasized that while sea export would be temporarily halted, avocados could still be shipped by air, including those in transit from other East African Community (EAC) countries.
However, these air shipments will be subject to inspection by the Directorate, and traceability information will be required for all consignments.
"Export clearance (including fruit consignments from the East African Community region) shall be granted for air shipment, subject to inspection by the Directorate. Traceability information will be required for all consignments," Audi stated.
Temporary export bans have become a crucial tool for Kenya in curbing premature harvesting of avocados, which could result in the export of lower-quality fruit.
By imposing this measure, the government aims to maintain the high quality and reputation of Kenyan avocados in the global market, thus ensuring better prices for the produce.
This move comes at a time when the demand for Kenyan avocados has seen a significant upsurge in recent years.
As a result, the market has become increasingly lucrative for the country.
Notably, in the first half of 2023, Kakuzi, an agro firm listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), experienced remarkable growth in its avocado business.
Profits from avocado sales more than doubled during the period, surging to Sh654.8 million, up from Sh288.6 million in 2022, with exports reaching European and Chinese markets.