Kenya targets to export avocados to South Korea from March next year as part of its horticulture business expansion strategy.

Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina last month signed an agreement with South Korea that would see Kenya start exporting avocado to the Asian nation.

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) managing director Theophilus Mutui says the agency has drafted phytosanitary standards that exporters should meet to enable the shipping of the produce to the new market.

Kenya is also keen on increasing mango export volumes to Italy after a successful trial with the plans to resume the European market in September exports well on course.

โ€œAs you are aware, the European Union is our major market for flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Currently, we are working to open up other markets for our produce. Just recently, we were in South Korea where we discussed enhancing exports of our produce to the Asian nation. This includes crops such as avocado,โ€ he said.

Prof Mutui said avocado is just one of the many products that have been a line for exports to Korea. Others include pineapple and pepper.

Already, organisations such as United Nations Industrial Development Organisation is training farmers in the best crop husbandry practices to enhance access to international markets.

โ€œFarmers have been encouraged to familiarise themselves with accepted pesticides in all international markets to easily meet the phytosanitary standards,โ€ said Prof Mutui.

Nairobi in May 2015 initiated a bilateral agreement to access the South Korean market for various products from Kenya. The move saw Kenya allowed to export banana and broccoli, which would not require pest risk analysis as is the case with other produce.

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However, Kenya has only exported less than a tonne since 2015, prompting the Trade ministry to raise concern in May over the failure by Kenya to export these two produce despite a ready market.

South Korea imports 70 percent of its food and in 2017, bananas were its most imported produce recording 834,000 tonnes worth $1.24 billion, according to the South Korea Customs Service.

The largest fruit exporter to South Korea, accounting for 38.3 percent of imports was the US.

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