China has insinuated plans to open its market for more fresh produce from Kenya following successful entry of stevia and frozen avocado.
China’s ambassador to Kenya, Mr Wu Peng, said the two countries have been working on a raft of trade pacts that could relax the stringent quality demands and open the populous nation’s market to Kenya’s fresh avocado and horticultural products.
Last year, Beijing and Nairobi signed an agreement on the export of frozen avocados, which makes Kenya the first African country to export the commodities to China.
“We are still working to seal the deal on export of fresh avocados, as well as other horticultural products,” Mr Peng said.
He was responding to growing concerns that small scale farmers are unable to benefit from the current market opening because it is expensive to have their fruits exported in frozen form.
According to the rules a farmer has to install machines and coolers for peeling and freezing of the fruit ahead of export.
They will have to freeze the peeled fruits to negative 30 degrees Celsius and chill further to negative 18 degrees while on transit to the destination.
This means that farmers will have to invest heavily in cold rooms and meticulously follow all the requirements to reap from the deal billed as the game changer for Kenya’s agriculture.
The peeling and freezing requirement adds to 56 steps a trader has to take shuttling from one government agency to another to get an avocado export clearance.
The stringent conditions, which include requiring a farmer to peel and freeze the fruit before export, could lock out thousands of small-scale farmers who are eyeing the world’s largest market.