KENYA – In a move to curb the smuggling of Kenyan avocados into Tanzania, the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has initiated a crackdown in Namanga, leading to the interception of four trucks transporting avocados and the subsequent arrest of those involved.
According to the authority, AFA received a tip-off from an exporter alerting them to the illegal transportation of Kenyan avocados across the Tanzanian border.
In response, they deployed a surveillance officer to Namanga, collaborating with security officers to halt the smuggling operation.
The intercepted trucks are now impounded at the Namanga customs office, and legal actions are underway for violating the provisions of the Crops Act 2013 and the Crops (Horticulture) Crops Regulations 2020.
This smuggling incident comes amidst the announcement by the Agriculture and Food Authority of the official closure of the avocado harvesting and export season for the 2023/2024 fiscal year, effective November 3, 2023.
The directive, communicated through the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), applies to popular avocado varieties such as Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte, and Jumbo.
The decision to close the season was based on a survey conducted by the Directorate to verify the maturity indices of avocados in major production zones.
To ensure compliance, the HCD issued guidelines for export clearance, requiring inspection by the Directorate and traceability information for all consignments, including those from the East African Community region.
Meanwhile, in another parallel development, AFA recently confirmed reduced cases of interception of export produce from Kenya.
According to the report, interceptions from January to October 2023 stand at 11%, a substantial drop from 40% recorded in 2022.
This reduction is attributed to the stringent food safety measures implemented by relevant regulators, aiming to address issues such as high levels of maximum residue level (MRL) in the exported products.
Cornelly Serem, Chairman of AFA, highlighted the significance of the decreased interceptions, stating, “Most interceptions are due to various reasons, including high levels of maximum residue level (MRL) in the product.” MRL is the legally tolerated maximum level of pesticide residue in food or feed.
To further enhance food safety measures, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, in collaboration with the AFA – HDC and the USAID-funded RTI-KCDMS, is developing an online National Horticulture Traceability System.
This system aims to automate the traceability process of fresh produce from farm to market, increasing transparency and accountability in horticultural supply chains.