Kenya steps up audit measures for avocado growers seeking Chinese market
NAIROBI, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), the country's plant health regulatory agency, said Tuesday it has stepped up field audits and facility inspections for more than ten avocado growers and exporters planning to explore the Chinese market.
KEPHIS general manager Isaac Macharia, who is in charge of Phytosanitary Services, said the agency aims to support the export of fresh fruits to China once the local Hass avocado harvest season opens next month.
"The next step for us now is to share the list with our counterparts in China for final registration. We are committed to facilitating trade by enforcing world-class phytosanitary and related plant health regulatory standards," Macharia said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
KEPHIS has been undertaking facility audits to ensure the integrity of local packhouses earmarked to provide packaging solutions for avocado exports as part of the implementation of the protocols.
The export of fresh avocados to China follows the early January signing of two protocols to facilitate bilateral trade, mainly the export of avocados and aquatic products from Kenya to China.
Macharia said the plant health regulatory agency has initiated registration and inspection where several avocado growers have been audited, including listed agro-business firm Kakuzi Plc, their orchards and packhouses.
KEPHIS has completed the required phytosanitary assessments and the trade facilitation undertaken by KEPHIS is expected to unlock the export opportunity of locally grown fresh avocados valued at more than 114.5 million shillings (about 1 million U.S. dollars) annually, according to Macharia.
The agency said it will also undertake stringent pre-shipment inspections for all containers before they are exported to ensure compliance with the Chinese plant health standards, which includes the mandatory fumigation with methyl bromide and temperature control of all shipments departing Kenya for China.
Theophilus Mutui, the managing director of KEPHIS, said the agency is working flat out to ensure that all eligible avocado growers and packhouses that meet the stringent phytosanitary standards are accorded an opportunity to enjoy the Chinese market prospects.
Kakuzi's managing director Chris Flowers lauded the support and cooperation of the government which he said will play a crucial role in diversifying Kenya's avocado export markets beyond the current European and Middle East markets.