KENYA – The government of Kenya through the Agriculture and Food Authority [AFA], has planned to launch a hot water treatment facility in Nairobi to boost export of Kenya’s horticulture products to international markets.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya said the hot water treatment plant is a viable intervention for the fruit fly issue and by establishing this facility, Kenya will not only increase mango quality and value but will also be able to enter other lucrative markets.

Speaking at the Horticulture and Crops Directorate [HCD] headquarters, he said the fruit fly had been a hurdle even forcing the country to enact a self-imposed ban on mango exports in 2015.

“The volume exported that year was 14,047,648 MT valued at ksh 1.61 billion. Since then, the volume exported decreased to 7,114,721 MT in 2020 valued at ksh1.05 billion,” he said.

Subsequent to a series of successful interventions including the establishment of pest free areas and areas of low pest preference in select counties, Kenya was able to ship its first mango consignment to Italy in 2021 since the self-ban was effected.

“Following this development, the volume exported rose to 10,378,480 MT valued at ksh1.716 billion. Kenya is now at a trajectory phase to regain its market share in EU and win more markets. Fresh horticultural exports have continued to be one of the leading foreign exchange income earners for the country,” Munya said.

Data from HCD shows that the total value of horticultural produce exported in 2021 increased by 5.1 percent, reports The Star.

This was from ksh150 billion in 2020 to ksh157.6 billion in 2021, while volumes increased by 29 percent from 314,000 MT in 2020 to 406,000 MT in 2021.

Hot water treatment is the dipping of fruits in hot water of specific temperature for specified periods for the purpose of disease control, insect disinfestations or uniform ripening’.

It was originally used for fungal control, but has been extended to disinfestations of insects and is an approved quarantine treatment for export of many fruits and vegetables against pests.

It reduces decay development and maintains fruit quality after subsequent prolonged storage and shelf-life.

This technology cleans and disinfects the freshly harvested produce at a relatively high temperature of 45-62°C, with the produce passing over revolving brushes for a very short time of 15-25 seconds.

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