Kenya’s Kakuzi has become one of the first companies in the country to receive the green light from the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) to process, prepare and export fresh avocados to China. The agri-business firm made this announcement on Thursday after successfully passing a series of inspections by Kephis that landed them the approval. “At the Makuyu facility and Orchards, we maintain world-class phytosanitary standards for our exports to Europe, and the KEPHIS approval further serves to underscore our quality commitments.” Kakuzi Managing Director Chris Flowers said.
This news comes just weeks after China allowed fresh avocados from Kenya to enter its large market; a decision that has led several Kenyan firms, including Kakuzi, to seek to win a share in that lucrative market. According to a Business Daily article (https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/bd/corporate/companies/kakuzi-seeks-nod-for-china-avocado-exports-3751784), apart from Kakuzi, Kephis has audited nine other firms to assess the extent to which they meet the quality and safety standards to export fresh avocados to the Asian country. Approval from Kephis grants Kenyan companies the status of certified exporters of fresh avocados to China.
Paving the way for the export of fresh avocados to China
In April 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta signed a deal to allow the export of Kenyan avocados and other horticultural products to China, making Kenya the first African country to export avocados to the Asian country. However, until early this year, Kenyan farmers and traders were required to freeze their crops before sending them to China. This requirement sought to prevent plant pathogens and pests commonly found in fresh avocados in Kenya from entering China. Because of the lack of appropriate facilities and limited resources, only one Kenyan firm out of 100 had the capacity to meet China’s export requirements resulting in an insignificant volume of frozen avocados exports to China since 2019.
China’s approval of the export of Kenya’s fresh avocados to its market is expected to boost the volume of avocados shipped to China, provided that avocado farmers and traders comply with strict phytosanitary regulations and meet the veterinary sanitary requirements.
Hopes for a reduced trade deficit
The decision to allow Kenyan fresh avocados into the Chinese market has been welcomed in Kenya as a means to increase Kenya’s export volume and therefore contribute to reducing the trade deficit Kenya has with China. According to Kenya’s National Bureau of Statistics, in 2021, Kenya imported about $3.9 billion worth of products from China while it exported a mere $131 million worth of products to the Asian country.
In 2021, Kenya was the top exporter of avocado among African countries and was featured in the top 10 producers in the world. When signing the deal with China in 2019, Kenyan officials were hoping to see the Chinese market absorb 40 percent of Kenya’s avocado produce. Such expectations, however, are far from being met due to China’s requirement to receive only frozen crops from Kenya. The approval of Kakuzi export of fresh avocados to China and the audit by Kephis of several other firms can be regarded as a step towards increased export of agricultural goods to China and towards reduced trade deficit with Beijing.