To safeguard Kenya’s international avocado market and combat the harvesting of immature fruits, the Horticulture Directorate has implemented a ban on the export of popular varieties such as Fuerte, Hass, Pinkerton, and Jumbo.

This decision comes as the main harvesting season reaches its conclusion and is set to be enforced starting November 3.

The fresh approach of simultaneously banning the harvest and export of all avocado varieties aims to address concerns about unscrupulous traders harvesting immature crops for export, which can lead to blacklisting Kenya’s fruits abroad.

“The closing of the Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo harvesting season and export by sea for the 2023/2024 fiscal year shall be in force as of November 3, 2023,” said Willis Audi, Director General Agriculture and Food Authority.

In a bid to accommodate exporters with consignments pending export, the regulator will permit shipments by air after obtaining clearance. However, export by sea will not be an option.

A review of the ban’s duration is scheduled for January of the following year to assess the crop’s status.

Ndegwa Ndirang'u, avocado farmer in Bungoma County. Image: BDA.
Ndegwa Ndirang’u, avocado farmer in Bungoma County. Image: BDA.

This proactive measure by the regulator is driven by the imperative to curtail the premature harvesting of avocados, which has been rampant among traders attempting to capitalise on the high commodity prices in the international market.

Avocado has consistently played a significant role in the horticulture sector, contributing nearly half of the total fruit earnings.

The expected shortage of the main avocado varieties in the local market will likely influence local prices.

The Middle Eastern avocado market faced challenges in 2018 due to the export of low-quality fruits, resulting in a substantial drop in avocado prices in Dubai in March of that year.

In recent times, Kenya has been diversifying its avocado export markets, reducing its dependence on the European Union, which has historically been a major buyer of Kenyan produce.

A notable milestone was achieved in September when Kenya exported its first batch of avocados to India, marking a significant achievement in the horticulture sector.