The Export Promotion Council (EPC) has welcomed issuance of conformity certificates to 12 companies allowing 294 farmers to sell freshly harvested avocados to Europe.
Council chief executive Peter Biwott said State agencies were duty-bound to promote Kenyan farmers’ access to European markets by supporting initiatives that prepare local farm produce for export.
Mr Biwott spoke in Thika where nine companies that work with nine Murang’a Avocado self-help groups received the coveted Overall 9 Global Gap Certificates.
This was after meeting the requirements on good farm management and sustainable practices that benefit individual farmers under the Export Sector Competitiveness Programme funded by the Netherlands government.
Mr Biwott said commissioning of the standard gauge railway also presented exporters of farm produce an affordable mode of transport, which would help Kenyan goods be more competitive at the global market while enabling local companies to enjoy better profits from reduce input costs.
“The certification has brought in 294 farmers into the avocado exporting bracket increasing avocado exports by 35 per cent.
More farmers should be encouraged to form groups that could be provided with the required avocado seedlings, on farm and improved harvesting practices that meet the required export standards,” he said.
Some of the beneficiaries also got a chance to fly to the Fruit Logistica fair in Germany and at the World of Perishables Expo in the United Arab Emirates where they won fresh orders after exhibiting their produce.
In the past year, Kenya exported 46.7 tonnes of fresh and dried avocados worth Sh6.5 billion up from 38.9 tonnes exported in 2015 valued at Sh5.2 billion.
Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP) Regional Coordinator Yessie Meyer said awarding of the certificates was culmination of an ongoing programme that seeks to uplift rural farmers by helping them access foreign fresh markets.
The sustainable business model also saw nine small and medium enterprises identified and linked to the farmer groups creating a round-the-year value chain.
The farmer-groups that will benefit from the programme are Gaichanjiru, which is linked to Mofarm Fresh fruits Exporters, Kiawambogo Central (Tyrobel Fresh), Marigu (Kandia), Gachocho Mixed (Wintechs Merchants Ltd), Gatemongo(Harir International) and Mutitu(Saipei Foods).
Others were Ng’araria Avocado Farmers Self Help Group that is exporting their products through Mavuno Organics Kenya Limited, Rwakama farmers (Goshen Fresh Produce Exporters) and Gituya Avocado farmers Self Help group who are closely associated with Keitt Exporters Limited.