Kenyan smallholder farmers to benefit free avocado maturity testing service as export resumes

Kenya extends avocado export ban

Smallholder farmers in Kenya eying export markets for their fruits are poised to benefit from a free avocado maturity testing service, an offer by Kakuzi PLC, a listed Kenyan agricultural company trading on both the Nairobi and London Stock Exchange.

The company made the announcement of the offer as it welcomes the Avocado Export season opening notification announced by the sector regulator.

Following the notification issued early this week by the country’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) through its Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), harvesting avocados for export will now be opened on March 1, 2024. It will be subject to strict compliance with the prescribed maturity and related market access standards.

With the strict regulatory requirements outlined by AFA-HCD, Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Chris Flowers has confirmed that Kakuzi’s free avocado maturity testing services will be available starting Wednesday next week.

The free maturity testing services offer, targeting smallholder avocado farmers around Mt Kenya region and beyond, he said will be available at the FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management Systems certified Kakuzi Avocado Processing and Packhouse facility located near Makuyu town, along the Nairobi-Nyeri highway.

“Kakuzi welcomes the directive provided by AFA-HCD and confirms that for shared prosperity, we shall be providing free Avocado maturity testing services for all smallholder farmers to ensure compliance with the regulatory, national and international market requirements,” Flowers said.

He added, “Kenya currently enjoys a favourable international market position for quality avocado production, and this status needs to be jealously guarded by ensuring phytosanitary, environmental, social, and governance standards are strictly maintained across the board.”

He disclosed that Kakuzi has already undertaken internal maturity testing at its Quality Control Room within its GlobalGAP-certified Makuyu Packhouse, with a forecast to commence its HASS avocado harvests in compliance with the regulations.

In its directive, AFA-HCD has reiterated that all avocado export produce will be subject to inspection by AFA-HCD inspectors. Exporters will also be required to apply for inspection at least three days prior to shipment.

To ensure product traceability, all exporters must also submit a list of their Horticultural Produce Marketing Agents (HPMA) or suppliers before Monday, February 26, 2024.

The directives to ensure quality and market standards also stressed that exporters or their agents found transporting avocados without crates or on open pick-up trucks (or Probox vehicles) contrary to the Horticulture Regulations shall be penalized.