KENYA – Kenyan mangoes have received a nod to resume the mango export business to Italy following a 7 year ban due to the fruit fly menace that led to product interceptions.
According to Kenya’s Health Inspection Service (Kephis), a few tons of mangoes were sent to Italy on trial after the country rectified the problems that led to the ban.
The self-imposed ban made Kenyan growers dependent on a less lucrative Middle Eastern market. The Kenyan government has however since then come up with a hot water treatment technology which makes the mangoes acceptable in Europe.
“We were able to export the first batch of five tons of hot water treated mangoes to Italy and we are happy they were received and accepted. We are now upscaling the technology so that we regain the market for mangoes in Europe after the self-ban in 2014,” said Kephis Managing Director, Theophilus Mutui.
Professor Mutui informed that the country was in the process of establishing a series of hot water treatment plants to tame the threat caused by these pests and fully resume exports to the European market so as to lessen over-reliance on the Middle East. Kenyan mango exports to the Middle East typically face stiff competition from Egyptian fruits due to the low cost of shipping from Cairo to Dubai and Qatar compared to Kenya.
Egypt’s proximity to middle-eastern countries, where Kenya is at the moment exporting the bulk of its fruits, enjoys lower shipping cost with a kilo going for Ksh32 (US$0.29) by ship when compared with a Kenyan exporter who has to part with Ksh108 (US$0.98) for the same quantity.
Egypt has the advantage of the sea, which cuts on cost, when compared with Kenya which has to export by air for the fruits to arrive when still fresh.
Mutui further said Kephis has established pest free areas in Makueni County and are working with farmers to trap the fruit fly pests.
Kenya is exploring new export markets for mangoes in the United Kingdom and Germany. A delegation will visit the two countries in October to market Kenya’s hot water treated mangoes varieties. The country will also start mango exports to Pakistan for the first time, as the government is slated to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding, which has been delaying the deal that was first reached in 2016.