Avocado exports from Kenya will resume in two weeks, ending a three-month suspension imposed by the Agricultural Food Authority (AFA).

The suspension, which was initiated by the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) in November last year to ensure the quality of exported fruit, will be lifted on March 1.

While the resumption is imminent, sea exports of Fuerte and Hass varieties will remain restricted to size code 20 (184 grams) until the open export window begins.

The government had suspended airfreight of avocados, opting for sea transport for restricted small quantities to prevent the export of unripe fruit that had previously tarnished Kenya's reputation in international markets.

The decision to lift the suspension followed avocado field surveys conducted by the AFA between January 7 and 12 to assess the maturity and volume of fruit in key production areas across the country.

AFA Acting Director Christine Chesaro said that a month ago the fruit was deemed insufficient, leading to the extension of restrictions on avocado shipments by sea. However, recent assessments have shown that the fruit is now ripe on farms and meets the required export volumes."All export produce is subject to inspection by AFA-HCD inspectors. Exporters are required to apply for inspection at least three days prior to shipment," said a memo dated February 14 to all avocado traders.

Exporters are required to provide a list of their Horticultural Produce Marketing Agents (HPMAs) or suppliers by February 26.

The directive also emphasises the need for avocado traders to monitor production and post-production processes to ensure compliance with regulatory and market requirements.

The AFA has imposed strict measures, including penalties, on exporters or their agents found transporting avocados without crates or in open pick-up trucks in contravention of the Horticultural Regulations.

Hass, Fuerte, Pinkerton and Jumbo varieties contribute to Kenya's avocado exports, with the fruit recognised as the 'green gold' of the future.

Avocado export earnings exceeded Ksh20 billion ($137.9 million) last year, mainly to Europe and Middle Eastern countries, making it a significant foreign exchange earner for Kenya.

Despite challenges such as smuggling attempts and fluctuations in market prices, Kenya has become a major player in avocado exports, overtaking South Africa. Local cottage industries have sprung up to extract oil from avocados, contributing to the country's growing industry.

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