President Uhuru Kenyatta and Chinese President Xi Jinping after the bilateral talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on April 25, 2019. Yesterday, Kenya and China signed six bilateral agreements in trade, ICT investment, agriculture, and economy that will see the East African country start exporting avocado, fish to the Asian counterpart.
This is commendable and the right step towards narrowing the huge trade deficit between the two countries that favours China.
The latest government data shows China accounted for over 50 per cent of Kenya’s trade bill worth Sh1.7 trillion in the first 10 months of 2021.
While this is laudable, it is not lost on us that Kenya signed a similar agreement with China in 2019, specifically on the exportation of frozen Hass avocados when President Uhuru Kenyatta met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Despite the signing of the protocol on sanitary requirements for the export of frozen avocado, Kenya only managed to ship a single container of 20-foot tonnes of ripe frozen avocados against a big potential.
This is due to tough quality checks put in place by China, blocking untrained farmers in Murang’a and other avocado-growing areas.
While the new protocol is more lenient, Kenya has the responsibility to train farmers on quality standards.
It must also relook at its policies to give incentives to farmers to enable them to grow more and enhance capacity.
The country is already struggling to satisfy ready markets, a key factor that saw listed avocado trader Kakuzi announce a profit warning for the year ended December 31, 2021.
The country must, therefore, move with speed to address quality in the agricultural value chain to avert scenarios that force international brands like KFC to import potatoes and chicken.
Meanwhile, we have another chance to sell avocados. Let us not let the deal die on the paper.