Markets give raw fruits wide berth
The horticulture sector risks making major losses as international markets move to reject produce suspected to be immature and highly infested by pests.
Regulators say some produce is also being banned due to high maximum residual levels (MRLs) as the global markets intensify implementation of new food stringent measures.
Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) acting director general Kello Harsama said yesterday that some major markets have been implementing stringent regulatory regimes that have resulted in produce being rejected on low quality.
“In the recent past we have witnessed increased notifications due to detection of Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and interceptions due to quarantine pests.
The interceptions are carried out at the expense of the exporter thus contributing to high shipping cost and reduced proceeds,” said Harsama.
Speaking during a media briefing in Nairobi, Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) director Benjamin Tito confirmed that the local value chains are losing on premium prices due to the low quality of the produce being exported.
“Volumes of major horticulture exports have in the recent past been increasing as more farmers continue to join the farming.
However, the value of the same has been decreasing as buyers cite low quality, a situation blamed on pest infestation and high levels of pesticides used.
For example, the farmers have been harvesting and exporting immature avocados missing best prices and shrinking market share,” said Mr. Tito.
Some of the major markets have been rejecting Kenya avocadoes include the European Union, Middle East, South Africa and Russia though the latter is new.
The EU is the largest consumer of Kenyan horticultural exports accounting for about 45 per cent of the country’s exports.
At the same time quarantine pests have been detected in exported consignments leading to interception and notification of non-compliance.
Even though the number of interventions has decreased in the last three and half years, Tito said the trend is worrying because it might lead to the country being blacklisted.
“For example, FCM interceptions in 2018 reached 38 from 90,785 consignments and increased to 39 in 2019 from 81,455 consignments.
In 2020, 34 interceptions from 88,241 consignments and 27 interceptions in 2021 were recorded respectively. And June alone had 8 interceptions,” Tito said.