TANZANIA – South Africa has granted market access to avocado produced in Tanzania, ending 10 years of a standoff over the matter due to lack of phytosanitary certifications.

South African avocado importers say they seek hard, green, and undamaged fruits that pass sanitary classification.

The Acting Director of the South African Plant Health, Jan Hendrik Venter, said the decision was reached following a successful virtual bilateral engagement.

“On November 9, 2021, the National Plant Protection Organization of Tanzania (NPPO) provided a pre-recorded video presentation to the National Plant Protection Organisation of South Africa (NPPOZA) to verify and pre-test pest risk management practices in order to allow authorisation of avocados from Tanzania to South Africa,” reads the statement.

According to The Citizen, the letter stated that following the presentation of a pre-recorded video inspection and subsequent deliberation during the virtual verification process, the market access for importation of avocado fresh fruit from Tanzania to South Africa has been granted.

However, the letter reiterates that the market access has been granted subject to the NPPO of Tanzania providing a list/database of the registered facilities as per paragraph 2.3 of the phytosanitary import requirements.

The market access of Tanzania avocados remained restricted despite application submitted to the NPPOZA in 2011. In February 3.514 tonnes of avocados that was transported to South Africa by Tanzania’s Kuza Africa Company was confiscated at the Beit Bridge Border post.

The fruit was seized and destroyed by officials from South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), purportedly because no phytosanitary documents accompanied the consignment.

The Chairman of the South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA) Clive Garrett, said the protocol for the importation of Tanzanian avocados into South Africa had not yet been finalized.

“It is absolutely important that we protect our local industry and we have consistently supported the development and implementation of these protocols between South Africa and Tanzania,” he outlined.

The incident is receiving much attention because the Tanzanian exporter claimed, that the fruit was sourced from small farmers in Tanzania who are suffering because of the effect of Covid-19 on their industry.

As stated by the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), in 2018 Tanzania exported 7,551 tons of avocado with a total value of US$8.5 million to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The International Trade Centre (ITC), also indicates that Tanzania’s avocado exports showed an impressive growth performance over the past years.

Untapped export potential for Tanzania’s avocado

The ITC estimates that most of Tanzania’s opportunities to increase avocado exports lie in the European Union (EU) where Avocado represents 1.5 per cent of agricultural exports. The most important market is the Netherlands, with an untapped potential of USD 1.8 million.

The second-largest market is France, but there the export potential is already fully realized. Other markets with large untapped export potential include Japan, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and China, while the potential to export avocado to Africa is very small.

In August 2021, Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa announced that the government is finalizing negotiations with South Africa to export avocados to the latter. The country’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, said that the government was working to open other avocado markets including China and India.

To seize the opportunity represented by the increasing international demand for avocados, Tanzania established an avocado cluster in the northern zone regions in May 2021. Tanzanian avocados fill the production vacuum caused by the geographically low harvesting period in South Africa that falls between December and March.

During this period the local South African trade normally imports fruit to supplement the local supply.

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