In Kenya, mango production is a significant economic enterprise that has been generating billions of dollars. Mango exports to the European markets had been banned due to the outbreak of fruit flies. Fortunately, the 8-year old self-imposed ban is expected to come to an end in September this year and Kenya will officially resume exporting to the lucrative European markets. After several tests indicated low levels of fruit flies on mangoes, Europe has approved the resumption of Kenya’s mango exports.
Between 2010 and 2014, the presence of fruit flies in Kenyan mangoes had resulted in interceptions by regulatory EU authorities. To protect the lucrative market and to devise acceptable and effective measures, Kenya imposed a self-export ban on the fruit.
When the ban was imposed, producers and exporters were forced to export to Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East markets which fetch 20 percent lower returns compared to EU markets. For instance, in the EU markets, a box containing 10 mangoes costs between USD $13 to USD $15 which is relatively high compared to the Middle East where they cost USD $6. In the local market, one fruit of the same quality costs between Ksh 8 to Ksh 35.
However, cases of re-exporting mangoes from the Middle East to other nations including to European nations has resulted in the imposition of tougher measures by the Kenyan regulatory bodies. For instance, Kenya has emphasized a certificate of origin and imposed a ban on the re-exportation of mangoes to avoid losing its reputation in the EU and to prevent interceptions from the European nations.
According to AFA and the Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD), the EU market will resume in September since the presence of fruit flies infestation in fruits has reduced drastically. Wilfred Yako, the HCD assistant director in charge of regulations and compliance, explains that the implemented strategies have helped farmers to control fruit flies which has further guided the resumption of the lucrative European Union market. For instance, providing traps to farmers and the Komesha Fruit fly campaign are some of the strategies that have helped eradicate fruit flies successfully. Mr. Wako remarks that there will be no complications in resuming the market since the government is collaborating with farmers to ensure that they implement various strategies to minimize the spread of fruit flies. These include embracing modern farming practices, use of traps, and establishment of pests’ free zones.
In 2019, Kenya produced 69.8 million of mangoes worth approximately Ksh 10.5 billion. Makueni County is the leading producer in the country with more than 4.3 million mango trees. The reopening of the European markets will create new opportunities to local farmers who are being exploited by middle men and brokers.