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Unpopular Mango Varieties Lock Out Kenya From EU Market

Kenya has yet to start exporting mangoes to the European Union. FILE PHOTO | NMG

 

Kenya has yet to start exporting mangoes to the European Union (EU) more than two years after it lifted a self-imposed ban on shipments to the key market, officials said, citing low demand for locally grown varieties.

Okisegere Ojepat, the chief executive officer of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), said Kenyan farmers grow the apple variety of mangoes, which is not popular with European buyers who prefer the Alphonso and Kent varieties.

This has inhibited market penetration, with mango exports to Europe remaining minimal despite the lucrative market. Europe is a major buyer of Kenyan fruits such as avocados, pineapples, and vegetables and cut flowers.

“We are currently in the mango season, but we are not selling to the EU despite lifting the ban. Our apple mango variety is not in high demand there,” said Mr Ojepat.

Mango seeds for the popular Alphonso and Kent varieties are unavailable locally, denting farmers’ efforts to plant the fruit.

“In Kenya, we have about only five trees of Alphonso mangoes. Farmers targeting the export market cannot readily find seeds for these varieties,” he said.

Mr Ojepat, however, said that the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organisation (Kalro) was developing seeds for the Alphonso mango, which will be available for sale to farmers once approved.

Kenya banned the export of mangoes to the EU in 2012 over fears that the fruits – which were infested with fruit flies – would see the country banned from accessing the lucrative market.

In September 2021, Kenya lifted the ban after controlling the fruit flies menace. In June last year, the EU allowed the export of hot water-treated mangoes from Kenya.

Mangoes are the second highest earning fruit exports for Kenya, with key destinations of the fruit including Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

According to data from the Horticulture Crops Directorate, exporters shipped out Sh1.7 billion mangoes in 2021. This was the second highest shipment behind avocados, which fetched the country Sh14.6 billion, and ahead of pineapples, whose value was Sh1.5 billion.

Kenya has been exploring more markets for fruit and, last year, commenced exports to Jordan.

-Business Daily

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