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Trade Facilitation: Kenya Eyes Malaysia Avocado Market As KEPHIS Hosts Malay Auditors Undertaking Orchards And Facility Audits At Kakuzi

The local avocado growers and exporters may soon enjoy further market diversification opportunities' in Malaysia as part of ongoing trade facilitation efforts by the Kenya Plant Health inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).

KEPHIS, the national plant health regulatory agency, has been engaging counterpart agencies in crucial target markets in the Far East to secure a broader international market footprint.

Speaking when he confirmed the efforts, KEPHIS, Managing Director, Prof Theophilus Mutui, said an Audit team from Malaysia's National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) concluded pest-risk and field assessments at Kakuzi Plc in Murang'a county last week as part of the bilateral engagements.

"KEPHIS has been working hard to secure export market access for local avocado growers beyond the traditional European markets as part of our statutory mandate," Prof Mutui said. He added, "Following the success of our venture to China, we are now engaging NPPO from Malaysia, who have undertaken field audits at Kakuzi. Our growers may commence avocado exports to Malaysia early next year if all goes well."

On his part, Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Chris Flowers said the NPPO Malaysia Audit team had conducted field audits and protocols assessments at the firm's Makuyu avocado orchards and Packhouse. Kakuzi became the first African firm to officially undertake commercial sales of Avocados on Chinese soil earlier this month and is looking forward to the Malaysia opportunity, Flowers said. 

"Kakuzi provided the necessary co-operation to the KEPHIS, and Malaysia NPPO teams who have conducted the facility and field audits to confirm our export readiness to the Malay market. This audit and review of protocols adherence is a welcome move as it fits well with our corporate quality management strategy to enhance our market footprint," Flowers said.

The Malaysia field and facility audits come hot on the heels of similar inspections recently undertaken by the Chinese Authorities. The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) recently confirmed that the Chinese National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) had approved fifteen (15) orchards, nine (9) packhouses and one (1) fumigation facility, including Kakuzi's orchards and packhouses to export fresh avocado to China.

Subsequently, the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (GACC) published a list of Orchards, Packing Houses and the fumigation facility authorized to export fruit to China.

The Malaysian market opportunity for Kakuzi will further boost the firm's growing market footprint. Buoyed by increased sales, particularly against the firm's strategic Avocado and Macadamia crops and steadily growing revenues from its market and product diversification efforts, Kakuzi reported a 60% rise in its half year pre-tax profits.

National data published in the Kenya Economic Survey 2021 confirm that earnings from exports of horticulture produced increased by 3.9 per cent from KSh 144.6 billion in 2019 to KSh 150.2 billion in 2020. With the introduction of new high-potential markets such as China, the value of horticultural exports is expected to grow, occasioning a positive economic ripple effect.