KENYA – The Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) in Kenya has suspended two avocado exporting firms on allegations of shipping immature avocados to overseas markets in a violation of set rules that the country has put in place.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Harsama Kello confirmed that Real Fresh Exporters Limited and Kandia Fresh Produce’s licenses were suspended due to involvement in the export of immature avocados.

“We are aware of companies exporting sub-standard fruits and we are acting. Recently I canceled two import licenses for two companies exporting immature avocados. I visited pack houses involved in the illegal business in Embakasi,” said Mr. Kello.

Last week, Kenyans abroad took to social media to complain about the poor quality of Kenyan avocados in Europe, catching the eye of the Ministry of Agriculture, which responded by saying that it was aware of the matter and was acting.

According to the regulator, avocados should be harvested when they reach maturity and are determined by a minimum dry matter standard of 24 percent. It announced that the 2023 avocado harvesting season officially opened on March 24th, 2023, but cautioned growers against harvesting immature fruit.

In a recent circular signed by the Director of the Authority’s HCD Benjamin Tito, all avocado fruits for export are to be subjected to 100 percent inspection before being shipped to international markets.

Tito highlighted that exporters are advised to apply for the inspection at least three days before the shipment of the produce.

He asked all dealers to take sole responsibility for production and post-production processes to guarantee compliance with regulatory, market, and statutory requirements are implemented, maintained, and improved.

Additionally, Tito indicated in the circular that exporters utilizing marketing agents or suppliers without valid registration permits shall have their licenses revoked.

The exporters’ lobby has raised concerns about how the two firms were handled in the revocation of their licenses.

“The government needs to dig deeper on the issue because these firms did not harvest the immature avocado by themselves,” said Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) Chief Executive Officer Ojepat Okisegere.

Meanwhile, one of the leading exporters of Kenyan avocados, Kakuzi PLC, will start harvesting and exporting Hass avocados to China and Europe beginning mid-next month for quality purposes even though the export window has already been opened.

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