Imports of Kenyan avocados unlikely to negatively impact SA

The recent lifting of an 11-year ban on imports of avocados from Kenya is not expected to negatively impact South Africa’s avocado industry.

avocados
When implemented in 2007, SA’s ban on imports of avocados from Kenya was intended as a measure to protect SA’s own fruit production from the damage-causing oriental fruit fly.
Photo: Lloyd Phillips

The South African government implemented the ban in 2007 after Kenya reported infestations of the damage-causing oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) in a number of its fruit farms at the time.

Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly, Derek Donkin, CEO of Subtrop, an organisation that manages the affairs of the South African Avocado Growers’ Association, said that while parts of South Africa did have their own oriental fruit fly (OFF) problems, the ban on imports of Kenyan avocados was aimed at preventing OFF from possibly finding its way into areas of South Africa where this insect pest did not already exist at that time.

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“South Africa has strict internal controls for the movement of fruit out of areas where oriental fruit fly is found. It also has strict controls for fruit coming into the country,” Donkin explained.

He added that before the implementation of the 2007 ban on imports of avocados from Kenya, South Africa was importing these fruit to fill the annual off-season shortfall of domestic avocado production and supply. While Donkin could not provide figures of the volumes of pre-2007 imports of avocados from Kenya, he said it was a relatively small quantity.

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“There are a number of additional costs, especially the cost of transporting the fruit to South Africa, that Kenya’s avocado exporters have to add. South Africa’s avocado industry has the advantage of not having these additional costs when supplying fruit to domestic markets,” he pointed out.

Donkin said that the local avocado industry was also aiming to eventually be able to produce and supply fruit for the full 12 months of every calendar year.

A brief statement issued by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) after the lifting of the ban by South African authorities, said, “As per the South African requirements, KEPHIS expects that [Kenya’s] avocado exporters have their firms and packhouses registered and approved by KEPHIS and audited for compliance in line with the systems approach requirements by South Africa.”