KENYA – Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), in a circular to horticulture exporters, wants all exporters to submit a list of their horticultural produce marketing agents on or before March 16, for scrutiny to try to sieve unlicensed exporters.

The government agency advised farmers from avocado growing zones in the country to start harvesting their fruits for export from March 24. AFA has revealed that avocados for this year’s season have attained the required maturity and volume indices and are ready for export.

Major avocado growing areas in Kenya include the counties of Murang’a, Kiambu, Meru, Kirinyaga, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, and Trans-Nzoia.

“The directorate undertook an avocado maturity field survey between March 6 and 12, this year to ascertain quality and volume of the avocado fruits in Major production zones and established the fruits are ready for export,” reads part of the circular.

In the circular signed by the director of the authority’s horticultural crops directorate Benjamin Tito, all avocado fruits for export will be subjected to 100 percent inspection before being shipped to international markets.

Tito highlighted that exporters are advised to apply for the inspection at least three days before the shipment of the produce.

He asked all dealers to take sole responsibility for production and post-production processes to guarantee compliance with regulatory, market, and statutory requirements are implemented, maintained, and improved.

Additionally, Tito indicated in the circular that exporters utilizing marketing agents or suppliers without valid registration permits shall have their licenses revoked.

AFA, through the horticultural and crop directorate, moved to regulate the export of avocados to prevent the shipment of immature fruits, which may ruin the reputation of Kenyan avocados and cause a ban on the entry of the superfood to the key markets.

The circular also noted that export of fuerte, hass, jumbo, and pinkerton varieties of avocado will be limited to a maximum size code 26, which is equivalent to 144 grams.

In a recent consultative meeting held in Murang’a, experts cautioned dealers from transporting avocados using open pickups as the mode of transport will compromise the quality of the fruits.

Speaking elsewhere, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Avocado Society of Kenya Ernest Muthomi asked farmers to embrace reforms being implemented in the avocado sub-sector, saying the regulations ensure the demand for Kenyan avocados is high.

All these efforts enacted by the government to ensure the export of quality avocado, according to Muthomi, will in return guarantee farmers a better return and condemn brokers who are perpetuating the selling of immature fruits.

He said the Avocado Society of Kenya, together with Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency, has brokered a new deal where from this season, the country will start shipment of avocados to Henan province of China. This would be an expanded market from the initial Shanghai province.

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