The popularity and love for Kenyan avocados has quickly spread around the world like wild fire. But not in South Africa, where Kenyan avocados have remained banned for a couple of years now.
According to South African authorities, the ban was imposed as a result of fruit fly presence in avocados coming from Kenya. But Kenya argues that the problem of fruit fly is long gone and in fact that is why Kenyan avocados are accepted in all major global markets including the Middle East and Europe- the greatest consumer of Kenya’s avocados.
Kenya has constantly accused South Africa of refusing to lift the ban yet an elaborate pest management was implemented a long time ago. The pest management plan was settled on between Kenya and South Africa.
Kenyan authorities say they have been writing letters to their South African counterparts who keep ignoring them – No response.
Continued closure of the South African market deals a blow to Kenyan farmers as well as the South African consumers who would like to consume Kenyan avocados. Indeed some Kenyan exporters have revealed to Bizrika that they get regular enquiries for Kenyan avocados from South African traders who are willing to import Kenyan avocados to South Africa. The traders quickly realise they are not allowed to import Kenyan avocados and quickly look elsewhere for options if any.
Speaking during the International Phytosanitary Conference in Nairobi on September 20, 2016, Kenya’s Principal Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Richard Lesiyampe confirmed yet again that South Africa is yet to give positive response regarding opening the market.
Though South Africa is not such big a market for Kenyan avocados, continued ban, which Kenya deems unfair, is not good for the image of the country’s leading fruit exports.
Kenya has taken position in the world as a top producer of avocados, especially the hass and fuerte varieties which are the most popular avocados grown for the export market. The producers are largely smallholder farmers who plant a few trees in their farms. The combined acreage of smallholder avocado farmers across Kenya adds up to make the huge volumes of avocados that are exported daily during peak season either by air or by sea.
Experts estimate that the growing demand for avocados around the world combined with the enthusiasm of Kenyan farmers who are keen to venture into avocado farming will catapult Kenya to become a leading avocado producer in the world within the next few years.