Nairobi — Kakuzi PLC is set to export its first hass variety avocado consignment to China this weekend.
The firm began field harvesting on Friday as part of the firm's systems trial following government confirmation that China has now provided the green light for fresh avocado exports to the market.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) early this week confirmed that the Chinese National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) had approved fifteen orchards, nine packhouses and one fumigation facility, including Kakuzi's orchards and packhouses to export fresh avocado to China.
Subsequently, the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (GACC) has published a list of orchards, packing houses and the fumigation facility authorized to export fruit to China.
Kakuzi PLC Managing Director (MD) Chris Flowers said the firm is planning to ship out the test run consignment this weekend once the necessary pre-shipment approvals are secured from KEPHIS.
He further said that the test run involving field harvests, post-harvest packaging and phytosanitary management per Chinese phytosanitary protocols will enable Kakuzi to fine-tune its internal processes in conjunction with the shipping and related agencies.
"The field harvests have started this morning, and we hope to prepare the first consignment to be shipped to China this weekend. In this trial phase, we intend to test the entire system capacity and fix any challenges between ourselves, the phytosanitary protocols facility and KEPHIS ahead of the planned larger shipments before the end of the next quarter," Flowers said.
In a recent communiqué to stakeholders, KEPHIS Managing Director, Theophilus Mutui noted that the Chinese National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) had approved the commencement of fresh avocado fruits exports from Kenya to China following the completion of a recent audit process.
Mutui explained that the approved farms, packhouses and fumigation facility will commence exports of fresh avocado to China under the close supervision of KEPHIS.
"The approved entities commence exports of fresh avocado to China under the supervision of KEPHIS. These are the ONLY farms, packhouses and fumigation facilities authorized to export to China. However, KEPHIS is still undertaking audits for farms, packhouse and fumigation facilities interested to export fresh avocado to China to ensure compliance with the requirements for the China market," he added.
The export of fresh avocados to China follows the early January signing of two protocols by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian to facilitate bilateral trade, mainly the export of avocados and aquatic products from Kenya to China.
The agreement gives specific import requirements based on a systems approach strategy and post-harvest treatment (fumigation with methyl bromide) for managing nine quarantine pests of concern to China.
Kakuzi lauded the support and co-operation of the Government of Kenya and its regulatory agencies, particularly KEPHIS.