It is now more likely that Kenya will be able to resume large-scale mango exports to the profitable European market, as the EU has approved a new treatment method for the produce to combat fruit flies.

The EU has allowed Kenya to use vapour heat treatment in eliminating the fruit flies- quarantine pests in Europe that compelled Kenya to pull out of this market nearly a decade ago following rampant cases of interceptions.

This comes as a boost to Kenya’s mango, which is now set to fully access the European Union market after complying with the phytosanitary requirements on pest management.

“Kenya has gotten additional approval to export temperature-treated mango fruit to the EU. The notification for the approval to use vapour heat treatment for fresh mango from Kenya was published by the EU in June 2023,” said Kenya Plant Inspectorate Service (Kephis) managing director Theophilus Mutui.

The EU had in 2021 approved hot water treatment as a remedy for containing the notorious fruit flies and the latest development gives exporters another option for treating the fruit.

Prof Mutui said exporters now have the leeway to export the fruit that has been treated either through vapour or hot water.

Under the vapour treatment, the fruit is subjected to hot temperatures that kill all the pests in it, unlike the hot water treatment where the mango is dipped in regulated hot waters to eliminate the insects.

Kephis has so far approved one vapour treatment facility for mango destined to Jordan and the EU market.

Last year, Kenya started export of mangoes to Italy on a pilot basis following the creation of pest-free areas in Makueni and Elgeyo Marakwet and the consignment was received well, giving the country hopes of resuming the exports to the European business bloc fully.

Fruits grown in pest-free areas ensure that the produce is free of the notorious fruit flies that forced Kenya to stop exports to Europe.

The country has been relying on the Gulf States as the main market for mango after exports to the EU were stopped.

Kenya’s mango exports to the Middle- East normally face steep competition from Egyptian fruits because of the low cost of shipping from Cairo to Dubai and Qatar compared to Kenya’s.