Tanzania makes major breakthrough in hunt for Chinese avocado export market

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Tanzania has recorded a major breakthrough in its bid to access the lucrative Chinese avocado export market after the Asian nation’s food compliance experts picked a sample of Tanzania’s avocado farms and packhouses for compliance auditing early this month.

According to the East African nation’s Ministry of Agriculture, the General Administration of Chinese Customs (GACC) responsible for overseeing food compliance has selected three sample plantations for video inspection, raising hopes for the farmers of exporting the avocados to the lucrative Asian market soon.

Some of the selected firms for appraisal include Usa Limited farm from Arusha, Rutuba and Africado farms of Iringa and Kilimanjaro respectively, affirming the Beijing’s commitment to open up its profitable market for Tanzanian-grown avocado as per the letter signed by Mr. Samson Poneja, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Tanzania.

“The video inspection encompasses various stages, starting from the harvesting process in a farm, progressing to transportation, storage in packhouses and cold rooms, and concluding with the packaging, preparing the goods for shipping,” explained Mdili Katemani, the ministry’s Plant Health Compliance and Trade facilitation Manager.

Accompanied by Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticide Authority (TPHPA), the expert added that the video inspection for the first batch of avocado farms will be conducted during the March 2024 harvesting season.

“In the event of a successful outcome, the video inspections conducted on the sample farms will open the door for other local plantations to undergo a similar process as part of the review for access to the Chinese avocado market,” he said.

Safety standards

All fresh avocados exported to China, the World’s second most populous nation and 150-million-US-dollar market, must comply with the Beijing phytosanitary laws and regulations, safety standards, and become free from quarantine pests, a per GACC.

Impressed by the development, Dr. Jacqueline Mkindi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) and advocate for the multi-million-dollar horticultural industry, expressed that China’s gesture will bring prosperity to local farmers and strengthen the bilateral trade relationship between the two countries.

“We are very grateful to Agriculture Minister, Hon. Hussein Bashe for working hard in connection with Tanzania’s Embassy in China to push through for the local companies to be audited to get sanitary and phytosanitary clearance,” said Mkindi.

The first attempt to open the Chinese expansive market started way back in 2018 when TAHA uncovered its potential.

Although Tanzania ranks as the third-largest avocado producer in Africa, trailing behind South Africa and Kenya, local farmers have struggled to penetrate the export market due to the absence of necessary SPS measures, a situation mirrored in the current scenario with the Chinese market.

Chin avocado import

Boasting a population exceeding 1.4 billion, China, currently the 10th top global importer of avocados, is poised to emerge as Tanzania’s primary market for fresh avocados. Traditionally limited to Europe and the Middle East, Tanzanian avocados are finding a new avenue in China.

Recent statistics reveal that in 2021, China imported 59.61 million metric tonnes valued at 149 million US dollars, a significant influx driven by the growing Chinese enthusiasm for avocados.

On the other hand, Tanzania’s annual avocado exports currently stand at over 20,000 metric tonnes worth nearly $30 million but targeting to export over 33,000 metric tonnes by 2026, bringing home about $50 million per year, according to Dr Mkindi.

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