Kenya has yielded to pressure and followed strict conditions that were set by Beijing in order to allow the country startd exporting frozen avocado to China.
According to the Directorate of Horticulture, the first consignment, arrived in China last month after the deal was reached nearly one and a half years ago. “The first consignment arrived in China late last month,” said Benjamin Tito, head of the directorate.
Beijing imposed stringent rules that Kenya has been fighting to have relaxed as most exporters do not have necessary have the infrastructure for freezing the fruits, delaying what has been a seven-year effort to land Kenyan avocado in the China market.
In April 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed to a deal that Kenya would only be allowed to export frozen avocado as a way of taming pests such as fruit fly, which have been common on Kenyan fruits.
The ministry of trade, however, started negotiations to have the rules eased and allow local firms to export fresh avocado.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), which is overseeing the export of avocados, says the conditions set by China will bar small scale holders from accessing the market.
Due to how strict the rules are, Kephis warns that Kenya’s avocado could be banned from the Chinese market if Kenya fails to comply with the set phytosanitary requirements.
Farmers will now be required to put systems in place that will support the peeling and freezing of the produce to the required temperatures before exporting.
China wants the fruits frozen to -30 degrees Celsius after peeling off the skin and negative -18 degrees while on transit to the destination, meaning that exporters have to invest heavily in cold rooms to meet the requirement.
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