Kenya leads the continent in avocado exports.
Kenya led Africa in avocado exports in the year and was among the top ten producers, with Murang’a accounting for 31% of overall output.
However, the nation only exported 10% of its entire avocado output, indicating that the market potential is not being completely realized.
According to Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD) Director Benjamin Tito, Murang’a was closely followed by Kiambu, Nakuru, Kisii, Nyamira, Meru, and Bomet counties.
Tito also said that newcomers Nyeri, Laikipia, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Uasin Gishu have almost quadrupled the area under production and would be counties to watch over the next two years as their avocado crops mature.
He said that avocado growers earned Sh14.48 billion between January and November of this year, compared to Sh14.41 billion during the same time last year.
“Volumes of the highly desired product in the domestic and foreign markets increased to 84.5 million kilos from 70.3 million kilograms recorded between January and November 2020,” he stated.
He said that the directorate, in collaboration with other value chain partners, has stopped the current season’s avocado harvesting from November 15th until early January 2022.
This, he claims, is to prevent the export of immature avocados, which he claims has harmed the country’s reputation in the international market.
It will also assist to disrupt the cropping cycle of trees, lowering expected quantities in later harvests.
“The season was closed due to a surveillance that was undertaken in significant avocado producing agro-ecological zones during the month of September 2021 to establish the quantities of avocado fruits that can be shipped by either sea or air,” he said.
He said that the evaluation to enable avocado exports would be completed on January 15, 2022, with off-season sizes for Hass and Fuerte kinds restricted to a maximum size code of 22 and 24, respectively.
The director said that the size of the Jumbo variety would be restricted to the minimum size of code 20, which is 184Kg, to guarantee maturity.
Tito said that the horticulture industry has remained resilient over the last year and is expected to develop, but he cautioned that this can only work with severe self-regulation and discipline by all stakeholders by adhering to export conditions as established in the horticulture code of practice.
He said that income from horticulture exports increased by 6% in 2021, from Sh136.7 billion in 2020 to Sh145.4 billion in 2021.
This was due to higher quantities, despite the fact that average export prices were lower than in 2020. Horticulture exports were 313 million kilos at a value of Sh150 billion.
The entire volume of exports climbed by 85 million kilos, indicating a 30% increase, owing to rising demand, particularly for flowers and vegetables.
According to the director, demand for fresh vegetables has increased because most export destinations loosened Covid-19 pandemic precautions.
“Cut flowers sent to the lucrative European market reached Sh101 billion during the review period, followed by vegetables at Sh26.8 billion and fruits at Sh17.5 billion,” he added.
Vegetable export volumes climbed from 34.38 million kilos in 2020 to 65.13 million kilos in 2021, while value increased from Sh13.9 billion in 2020 to Sh23.78 billion in 2021, with the United Kingdom, Holland, and France being the top export destinations, he said.
“The volume of fruits exported increased from 99.5 million kilos in 2020 to 110.5 million kilos in 2021, representing an 11% increase as compared to the same period in 2020,” the Director said, noting that the value dropped from Sh17.75 billion in 2020 to Sh 17.57 billion in 2021, representing a 1% decrease.
Tito indicated that all logistics have been worked out for the restoration of mango exports to the EU market after a seven-year self-ban and that exporters will soon begin shipping the fruit following EU permission for exports of hot water processed mango.
“In July, Kenya successfully shipped the first hot water treated mango consignment to Italy, which was judged to be compliant in both phytosanitary and quality aspects,” Tito said.
The agricultural industry forms the backbone of Kenya’s economy, accounting for 29.3 percent of GDP and 80 percent of national employment. According to the Kenya Economic Survey 2020, the top three sub-sectors in 2020 will be dairy, horticulture, and tea.