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China exports $4 billion worth of goods to Kenya but refuses to buy avocados from Kenya

Nairobi July 9, 2022

After Kenya had struggled for years to be allowed to deliver avocados to China, Kenya proudly announced in January 2022 that it had signed an avocado export agreement with China.

Now, seven months later, Kenya is finding that deals with China appear not to be worth the paper they are written on, as to date, China has not allowed the shipment of even one avocado to China.

Ten Kenya avocado companies were approved by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) to export to China, and those companies have faced a strict scrutiny.

For example, China had asked the Kenya authorities to examine the companies and the production process in detail, among other things, the orchards, the fumigation plant, and things like the packing house.

Kakuzi, the largest avocado grower in Kenya, spent a month demonstrating every aspect of its production, from seeds and tree care to harvesting, processing, and packaging the avocados.

Though ten avocado exporters then passed Kenyan inspections, China now wants to conduct its own audits, which could take a decade, based on the experiences of some other African fruit producers.

The European Union acted in a completely different manner, requiring only inspections by Kenya’s authorities at the point of exit.

Accordingly, Kenya exported $154 million worth of avocados to Europe in 2021.

By contrast, a decade may pass before China allows Kenya, Africa’s largest avocado producer, to ship even a single avocado to China.


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