The European Union has given the green light to Kenya for the export of fresh hot water treated mangoes, marking a significant milestone in the country’s agricultural trade with the EU. This approval comes as an addition to the 2021 authorization for using hot water treatment for mangoes, further enhancing Kenya’s position in the international market.
The news was confirmed by Theophilus Mutui, the managing director of Kenya Plant Inspectorate Health Services (KEPHIS). In his statement on Tuesday, he revealed that the EU published the notification for the approval of vapour heat treatment for fresh mango fruits from Kenya in June 2023. This new treatment option allows exporters to choose between using vapour heat or hot water to treat mangoes destined for the EU market.
The decision to grant Kenya the additional approval comes after the country resumed its mango exports to the EU in September 2021. Kenya had previously imposed an eight-year self-imposed ban due to concerns about fruit flies, which were affecting the quality of produce and leading to interceptions of shipments.
The invasive fruit fly, specifically the Bactrocera invadens, poses a significant threat to avocado and mango production in Kenya. According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), fruit flies are responsible for causing 40 to 80 percent of fruit damage in the country. This not only results in a high cost of production and poor-quality fruit but also leads to substantial post-harvest losses and a decline in market value.
The approval of hot water treatment and now vapour heat treatment methods by the EU allows Kenyan exporters to take crucial steps towards mitigating the impact of fruit flies and meeting the stringent phytosanitary and quality standards of the EU market.
To further support the mango export business, KEPHIS has already approved one temperature treatment facility for exporting mangoes to the EU and Jordan markets. Moreover, the institution is actively working to approve more facilities to accommodate the increasing demand for temperature-treated mangoes.
Mutui emphasized the importance of adhering to the Kenya mango certification protocol to ensure that the exported fruits meet the required phytosanitary and quality standards. By doing so, Kenyan exporters can build a strong reputation for consistently delivering top-quality mangoes to the EU market.
In addition to the temperature treatment measures, KEPHIS is also actively supporting farmers, exporters, and other stakeholders in producing export-quality mangoes. One of their primary approaches involves the establishment and approval of pest-free zones, areas with low pest prevalence, which will help protect the mango crops from infestation.
To strengthen the export market further, KEPHIS is conducting capacity-building initiatives to educate stakeholders on the specific requirements of the mango export market in different production zones. This knowledge-sharing will empower farmers and exporters to make informed decisions and comply with the EU’s standards effectively.
The journey towards becoming a leading exporter of hot water treated mangoes to the EU has been supported by the KomeshaFruitFly campaign, launched by KEPHIS in January 2020. The campaign aims to improve mango production and quality in Kenya, ultimately leading to increased exports and enhanced incomes for farmers.
Part of the campaign’s focus is to raise awareness about the economic benefits of adopting integrated pest management technologies to control fruit fly damage on mango fruits. By utilizing such advanced techniques, Kenyan farmers can safeguard their harvests, ensure better-quality produce, and maintain the EU’s trust in their products.
The recent approval by the European Union is a testament to Kenya’s commitment to excellence in the agricultural sector. With the availability of both hot water and vapour heat treatment methods, Kenyan mango exporters are poised to make a significant impact on the EU market while boosting the country’s economic growth and empowering local farmers. Through collaboration between various government agencies and stakeholders, Kenya is well on its way to securing a firm foothold in the global mango trade.
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