Kenya ban on the export of avocados due to severe shortage – has thrown the international market into limbo as severe shortage bites.

Kenya stopped further exports of the fruit to protect its place in the market fearing that unscrupulous traders might dump immature crop in the international market which might see the blacklisting of the fruit.

“We have stopped the export of Fuerte and Hass varieties because traders would ship out immature crop because of high demand in the world market,” Alfred Busolo, Agriculture and Food Authority chief, told Kenya’s Business Daily Africa.  “However, we’re going to lift (the ban) starting next month once harvesting starts.”

The country, which is the he world’s sixth largest producer of the fruit, said the prices have shot to an alltime high with the average price of a 90kg bag costing £17.91 (Sh2,560) in December, the highest price since May 2014, when it cost £18.87 (Sh2,700) per bag.

The move will see the prices shoot in the international markets as Kenya moves to safeguard its place.

Avocado is an extremely popular fruit in the east African nation and accounts for seven per cent of Kenya’s total fruit exports, having shipped just over 50,000 tonnes to foreign markets in 2016.

The current ban comes amid what is being dubbed the Great Avocado Depression of 2018 in Australia, which has seen cafes struggling to keep up with demand for the fruit during the harvest off-season.

As a result, the price of single avocado rose from 14p (Sh50) to 56p (Sh80) in the capital Nairobi and 7p (Sh10)  to 35p (Sh20) elsewhere in the country, during the fruit’s high season.

Listed Avocado producer, Sasini Limited, hailed the government’s decision saying the ban will lock out low quality fruit which can ruin the export market.

“Avocados mature in March and the high season continues until around September,” says  Stephen Githiga, Sasini’s managing director. “However, some people ship out immature crop in pursuit of high returns. The net effect of this is that we have bad fruits in the market. This could lead to avocado from Kenya being blacklisted. The ban is a necessary safeguard.”

Avocado is one of the most popular fruits in the UK and many believe that it can be used to beat epilepsy seizures.

Dr Vanessa Rissetto say that avocado is “loaded with vitamin K and folate — and is known to prevent blood clots in the brain and improve cognitive function and both memory and concentration.”

In Australia, a shortage of avocados has seen the price shoot to $4.49 each. In the UK, the going rate for the hass avocado is €2.50 per kilo.

In Australia, the shortage has seen some restaurants leave humourous warning signs according tyo media reports: “No cash or avocados kept on premises overnight!”

The supermarkets are also reporting what media is calling  weeks of “avocado hardship” and shortages have been reported in Singapore and Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and China, as well as the Middle East.

 

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