Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, froze the exportation of avocados by sea starting November 15, 2022.
The ministry ordered farmers to stop harvesting avocados for three months to prevent premature harvesting of popular varieties of the fruit, including Hass, Fuerte, Pinkerton, and Jumbo.
Head of Horticulture Crops Directorate, Benjamin Tito, advised farmers to continue growing avocados during the three months when growers cannot export the popular avocado varieties by sea.
“In order to safeguard the industry, the directorate undertook a survey to ascertain avocado maturity and projected volumes and found there were insufficient mature fruits in orchards across the country,” he noted in a notice.
The move by the government came days after experts raised concerns that continuous exportation of Kenyan avocados via sea will soon damage local production lines.
“Harvesting of off-season crop is inadequate to warrant shipment by sea and will interfere with the cropping cycle of the trees, thereby reducing projected volumes in subsequent harvests," Tito added.
The ministry organised a stakeholder meeting with farmers who will be educated on the need to limit or cut off illegal harvesting.
“Export clearance shall only be by air subject to inspection and approval by the directorate including fruits from the East African Community member states unless transhipment,” Tito confirmed.
It also reopened the exportation of avocados in March 2022 as Kenya sought to take advantage of the global shortage of the commodity.
Farmers were then permitted to export precious Fuerte and Hass varieties.
The March 2022 resumption of exportation took place after a one-year ban, in which the government moved to curb the harvest of the immature crop following previous rampant cases of traders picking young crops to capitalise on high prices of the commodity at the international market
China is one of the leading markets for Kenya's avocado. The Asian nation was reported to have consumed Kenya's avocados worth Ksh7 billion in three months leading to October 2022.