Kenya is set to resume avocado exports next month after a two-month hiatus imposed by the government to curb the harvesting of immature fruits.

The decision stems from a comprehensive field survey conducted by the AFA Horticulture Directorate from January 7-12, which focused on evaluating maturity indices and volumes in key production zones.

During the survey, authorities observed that avocado fruits were not adequately mature, leading to the extension of restrictions on sea shipments.

However, subsequent assessments by the Directorate revealed improvements in the maturity of avocado fruits in major production zones, necessitating the reopening of the market.

As one of the top 10 global avocado producers, Kenya’s absence from the market during the suspension period exerted pressure on prices worldwide.

“The Directorate has now confirmed improvement in the maturity of avocado fruits in the major production zones and, therefore, directs the reopening of avocado harvesting for export on March 1, 2024,” said Christine Chesaro, the head of the Horticulture Directorate

Ms Chesaro stressed that all exported produce will undergo inspection by AFA-HCD inspectors to verify maturity levels and ensure compliance with established standards.

Exporters are urged to apply for inspection at least three days before shipment to facilitate a thorough assessment.

While the export of Hass and Fuerte varieties will continue, it will be limited to a maximum size code 20 (1849) 4.

Exporters are mandated to submit a list of their Horticultural Produce Marketing Agents (HPMA) or suppliers by February 24. Strict adherence to packaging standards and transactions exclusively with registered marketing agents is required.

“Exporters or their agents found transporting avocados without crates or on open pick-up trucks (or Probox vehicles) contrary to the Horticulture Regulations shall face penalties,” said the regulator.

The Directorate emphasises the need for avocado dealers to take full responsibility for production and post-production processes to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.