KENYA/US – The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) is seeking public input on a drafted pest risk analysis evaluating the potential risks associated with importing fresh thyme and oregano from Kenya into the United States.

The USDA has identified specific phytosanitary measures that, when applied, are expected to effectively mitigate the risks of introducing plant pests or noxious weeds into the U.S.

The public is invited to review and comment on the analysis during a 60-day period, ending on March 18, 2024.

According to the USDA, this initiative is part of the ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and security of agricultural imports while facilitating global trade.

Interested parties can access the pest risk analysis documents and submit comments through by searching for docket number APHIS-2023-010-1.

In May last year, Kenyan herb exporter Avohass, led by CEO Solomon Mumbi, expressed interest in expanding its market presence to the United States and Scandinavia. Currently supplying fresh-cut herbs to the European market, Avohass faces challenges, particularly in airfreight costs.

Mumbi highlighted the complexities of exporting herbs, stating, “The last few years, airfreight was difficult, but we managed, even when the cost of airfreight tripled.”

Despite the challenges, European clients have continued to demand Avohass’s products due to their organic nature and adherence to necessary certifications.

Addressing the competitive landscape, Mumbi acknowledged that Avohass faces stiff competition in Europe, primarily from Israel and South America.

In Italy, where the company operates, the market’s preference for locally produced products poses both a challenge and an advantage.

“Our biggest challenge is the airfreight costs. The logistics are our biggest challenge. We want to move away from air cargo to sea, but we need to have the transit days reduced. We need reefer containers. The controlled atmosphere (CA) containers are very expensive, but still much cheaper than airfreight,” explained Mumbi.

Despite the hurdles, Mumbi emphasized the company’s commitment to expanding its reach. “Expanding is good, but it also depends on what the market wants and what we are able to supply,” he noted.

While many Kenyan producers have turned to avocado farming, Mumbi remains confident, stating, “Kenya is a big country, so everyone can’t do avocados.”

Identifying logistics as their primary challenge, Mumbi concluded, “Our office is based at the airport where we have our own logistics company. In Kenya, we always have to compete with the flowers for cargo space.”

The company remains optimistic about overcoming logistical challenges and establishing a foothold in new markets.

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