The move is intended to prevent the harvesting and exporting of immature fruits, a practice that had harmed the country’s export market in the past, said the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), a state corporation established to develop, regulate and promote scheduled crops, in a statement published by local media.

“Export clearance (including consignments from the East Africa Community) shall be granted for air shipment only, subject to inspection by the directorate. Traceability information will be required for all consignments,” said AFA Director-General Willis Audi, adding that the institution will review the ban in mid-January 2024.

Audi noted that the move would help sustain and grow the international market for the East African nation and minimize interruptions in the crop cycle caused by the harvesting of immature fruits.

Kenya is one of the leading avocado producers in Africa and exports the fruits to the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, China, France, Spain, Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

According to the AFA, Kenya exports up to 20,000 metric tonnes of avocados annually to the European Union and the Middle East.

In the country, farmers mainly cultivate three varieties of avocados: Hass, Pinkerton, Fuerte and Jumbo.

Kenya has been actively seeking to expand its avocado market. In 2019, the country signed a deal with China to export avocados, along with other horticultural produce.

By Fred Odanga.