By MURIMI GITARI
April 3,2019,Nairobi.The ministry of agriculture is leading an initiative that is geared to see Kenya’s avocado produce find its way to the Chinese market.
Chinese experts paid a visit to Kenya late last month and early this month on 1st April to conduct risk analysis and field visits during this peak season for avocadoes after China recommended the same before it opens up its market to Kenya. The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) managing director Esther Kimani confirmed the visit.
The experts will be seeking to comprehend orchard management, terms of picking and packaging together with certification of the avocadoes.
Ms Kimani who was quoted by a local daily said that they invited China and after some negotiations and agreed for the visit dates to be on 25th March and 1st April this year to coincide with the main avocado season.
Some of the avocado farms to be visited by the experts are in Kakuzi, Embu, murang’a, Uasin Gishu and Transzoia County whereby after the visit they will be taken to the airport to check on how fruits and other crops are inspected and conducted.
“We have so far received so many avocado export to China request since the year 2011 that prompted us to apply for market access in April the same year to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China,” Ms Kimani said.
The General Administration which is the Chinese National Plant Protection Organisation NPPO did not give a feedback making KEPHIS to make another application in the year 2017 where they were provided with some technical information to help them in Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) that was vital to them since they were ready to do anything to see the avocado produce gets to the China Market. NPPO was done with the PRA and gave KEPHIS feedback in December 2017. In this same year President Kenyatta held bilateral talks with the president of China President Xi Jinping in China and its after these talks the president pushed for this major market.
“We have been doing our best and will continue doing the same because if China opens the market for us, which is our target, it will be massive due to the high population in China thus will compel our farmers grow more translating to more income,” Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said.
The report from the feedback given by NPPO from the PRA indicated that only 11 species out of the 104 harmful organisms affecting avocadoes in Kenya were of concern to China. Risk mitigation measures was part of what the china NPPO wanted Kenya to indicate in the PRA in ensuring avocado exports are free of pests based on a system approach that was done in December 2017 according to KEPHIS managing director. The report of the risk mitigation said that the country has put forward a comprehensive preventive and control mechanism for pests. They proposed that Kenya considers establishing a non-epidemic area or a non-pestilence production unit for prevention and control of pests.
A big blow to the country from the report was that China will not allow importation of Hass avocado variety as it had been verified as a non-host.
KEPHIS is working closely with avocado exporters in ensuring they keep in place the system approach to management of pests of interest as they await the proposed China audit.