KENYA – The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), operating through the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), has officially declared the commencement of avocado harvesting for export from March 1, 2024.

The authority had announced the closing of the harvesting season and export by sea of avocadoes for the 2023/2024 fiscal year effective November 3, 2023.

This announcement follows an extensive avocado field survey conducted between January 7th and 12th, 2024, aimed at evaluating maturity indices and fruit volumes in major production zones.

Initially, the survey indicated insufficient quantities, leading to a temporary restriction on avocado shipments by sea.

However, the latest report from the Directorate indicates a marked improvement in the maturity of avocado fruits in key production zones, warranting the opening of the export season.

All exported produce will undergo scrutiny by AFA-HCD inspectors, necessitating exporters to apply for inspection at least three days before shipment.

The export of Hass and Fuerte varieties will proceed but limited to a maximum size code 20 (184g). Exporters are also mandated to submit a list of their Horticultural Produce Marketing Agents (HPMA) or suppliers before February 26, 2024, and are cautioned to transact only with registered and permitted marketing agents.

In addition, the Directorate issued a stern warning against transporting avocados without crates or using open pick-up trucks or Probox vehicles, as it violates Horticulture Regulations and will result in penalties.

Avocado dealers are urged to take full responsibility for production and post-production processes to ensure compliance with regulatory and market requirements.

Kenya’s avocado industry is experiencing remarkable growth, with exports doubling over the past five years.

Plans are in place to expand the planted area by approximately 1,500 hectares annually over the next five years.

Notably, China has become a significant player in Kenya’s avocado market, witnessing a nearly tenfold increase in imports in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Chinese authorities report importing 4,324.1 tons of Kenyan avocados in 2023, up from 443.6 tons in 2022.

Philip Mutooni, Chief Executive of the Avocado Exporters Association of Kenya, acknowledged the European Union’s continued dominance as the primary market for Kenyan avocados.

However, he emphasized the strategic importance of the growing Chinese market, stating, “The EU is our biggest market and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. However, besides China, we are also looking into growing sales in other markets such as India and Saudi Arabia.”

Furthermore, Kenya marked a significant milestone by entering the Indian market with the first shipment of avocados in September of the previous year, following eight years of negotiations.

The diversification into new markets is part of Kenya’s broader strategy to fortify its position in the global avocado trade landscape.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.