Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials stationed at the Namanga border have come under scrutiny for permitting the export of immature avocados to Tanzania, destined for further shipment to overseas markets.

On Friday, the Agriculture and Food Authority- Horticulture Directorate (AFA-HCD) confiscated a significant shipment of 32 tonnes of avocados that had already crossed over from the Kenyan side.

The HCD temporarily halted both the harvesting and shipment of avocados but has allowed exporters an opportunity to export mature off-season fruits, provided they obtain clearance from the regulator.

These consignments were cleared by KRA officials despite lacking essential documents from the regulatory authorities, pointing to a lack of compliance to standards by the tax agents.

The HCD swiftly intervened by tracking the consignment and promptly informing Tanzanian officials not to clear it for entry.

Collins Otieno, the Acting Deputy Director of Regulations and Compliance at the HCD, said the intercepted consignment was en route to international markets via Tanzania, exploiting this route due to the closure of the Kenyan avocado season.

“This consignment was destined to overseas market after crossing the Tanzanian border,” said Mr Otieno.

This move poses a significant risk to Kenya, potentially leading to its blacklisting for exporting substandard fruits.

Lorries that were intercepted by HCD officials after crossing to Tanzania with immature avocado. Image: courtesy.
Lorries that were intercepted by HCD officials after crossing to Tanzania with immature avocado. Image: courtesy.

Kenya had officially concluded its avocado season in November of the preceding year, restricting fruit shipments to air transport.

The closure aimed to curtail the export of immature crops that could compromise the quality of Kenyan fruits, thereby diminishing earnings.

Officials underscored the absence of proper documentation for this consignment, raising concerns about its suitability for export markets.

The HCD has been receiving complaints indicating that some traders persist in transporting immature crops to Tanzania despite the suspension of exports.

A senior official at the HCD told this publication that the avocado consignments have been passing through the Namanga border to Tanzania in December as unscrupulous traders connive with rogue KRA officials.

Regulatory measures are stringent, with exporters risking the cancellation of their licenses if caught exporting immature produce.

This complex scenario underscores the need for heightened vigilance and regulatory adherence to ensure the quality and reputation of Kenyan agricultural exports on the global stage.

HCD is currently conducting its investigations to unearth the owners of the consignment whose licenses would be revoked.