Mango business resumes in EU

Kenya’s mango farmers can now access the lucrative European Union market following successful negotiations between Nairobi and Brussels last week to allow in produce from areas that have a low prevalence of fruit flies.

Kenya has since 2013 placed a self-imposed ban on the export of mangoes to the EU due to the fruit fly menace, keen to avoid having the restriction imposed by the bloc itself as this would make it harder to resume exports once the fly is contained.

Officials from the Directorate of Horticulture, Kenya Health Plant Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and stakeholders from farmers’ associations were in Brussels last week to pitch a case for Kenyan mango exports following the creation of a pest-free zone and construction of a hot water treatment plant.

“We are telling exporters that they can get back to the EU market if they get mangoes from areas that have a low prevalence of the fruit flies and if their consignments undergo the hot water treatment process,” said Benjamin Tito, head of Horticulture Directorate.

Kenya exported 3.05 million kilogrammes of mangoes worth Sh493 million in the seven months to July 2021.

The Kenyan delegation met with the European Union’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety to explain the efforts towards compliance with the EU sanitary and phytosanitary requirements.

“This engagement with the EU will ensure that the Kenya mangoes that are currently in season are absorbed by the EU market and that there is a resumption of exports to this important market during the November 2021 — March 2022 season,” said Kenya’s embassy to Brussels in a statement.

The self-imposed ban has seen Kenya sell the bulk of its mangoes to the Middle East but returns have been lower compared to what growers would earn from EU states.

Exports to the Middle East usually face stiff competition from Egyptian fruit because of the lower cost of shipping from Cairo to Dubai and Qatar.

Egyptian mango exporters pay Sh32 per kilo when exporting to the Middle East by sea, more than three times the Sh108 that it costs Kenyan exporters to ship the same quantity.