Export prices of avocado have risen to Sh800 per four-kilogramme pack in November, propped up demand for the few supplies available in the market as the main crop season dragged to a close.

Data by the Horticulture Directorate shows that the November prices represented a 33.33 per cent jump when compared to a similar month of 2019 when a four-kilo package of the fruit retailed at Sh600 in the export market.

Avocado has been a major contributor to the income from the horticulture earnings, raking in nearly half of the total returns from fruits. Kenya’s avocado exports jumped 15 per cent to 68,000 metric tonnes over the 12 months to October, fetching Sh14 billion.

Kenya, which is ranked eight globally in avocado production, netted Sh10 billion from 59,000 tonnes of the fruit exported over a similar period of last year.

The main crop season for the three major avocado varieties — Jumbo, Hass and Fuerte –traditionally closes in the fourth quarter of the year.

The latest rally in avocado prices has attracted phoney traders hoping to profiteer from illegal exports.

Barely a fortnight ago, the horticulture regulator banned the export of the popular Hass and Fuerte avocado varieties to curb the harvesting of the immature crop. The ban follows rampant cases of traders picking young crops, encouraged by high prices of the commodity.

Industry players have been enforcing quality standards amid pressure to deal with cartels, which are seeking to profiteer from high global demand for avocado. Some of the crooks paid little regard to quality, putting Kenyan exports at risk of rejection in the global markets.

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The Directorate of Horticulture said exporters with the Jumbo variety, who are still allowed to ship out, will only do it by air and not sea with the size expected to be at least 184 grammes for a single fruit.

“We want those exporting Jumbo to use air to curb the export of immature crop as using sea would require one to fill a container. We think there isn’t that enough volumes to fill one,” said the directorate.

According to the directorate, the review on the resumption of the export would be done on January 10. Normally the directory lifts the ban on Fuerte variety on around February 15 followed by Hass on March 15.

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