BY PSCU and MWAKERA MWAJEFA, BEIJING
Kenyan farmers will now export their popular hass avocado direct to China following a trade deal signed when President Uhuru Kenyatta met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday April 25, 2019.
This signing makes Kenya the first African nation to export avocados to the Asian nation with a market of over 1.4 billion consumers comes after a long and comprehensive approval process that included Chinese experts visiting Kenyan farmers.
The Chinese market will absorb over 40 percent of Kenya’s avocado produce, making it one of the largest importers of the fruit. Other famous destinations of Kenyan avocado include Europe and the US.
Kenya overcame the last major hurdle for the export of frozen avocado in the highly regulated but lucrative Chinese market by the signing of the protocol on sanitary and phytosanitary (an agreement relating to the health of plants, especially with respect to the rules of international trade).
This makes avocado the second farm produce from Kenya to access the expansive Chinese horticultural market after Stevia and will be followed by 13 other priority farm produce among them flowers, mangoes, French beans, peanut, vegetables, meat, herbs, bixa and macadamia.
In their meeting, both Presidents Kenyatta and Jinping’s delegations focused on promoting economic and trade exchange in eight key initiatives identified during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting held in Beijing last year.
These initiatives include industrial promotion, trade facilitation, infrastructure connectivity, green development and people-to-people exchange. Others are capacity building, healthcare, and peace and security.
President Kenyatta is in Beijing for a three-day working tour where he will also attend the Second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation that will be officially opened by President Xi Jinping on Friday.
Those accompanying the President are cabinet secretaries Peter Munya (Trade), Dr. Monica Juma (Foreign Affairs) and James Macharia (Infrastructure) among other senior government officials.
The BRF conference at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC) is being attended by world leaders from 37 countries, 5000 delegates drawn from 150 nations and representatives of 90 international organizations.
During the bilateral talks held at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing, President Kenyatta applauded China’s continued readiness to open its market to Kenyan products.
The solid partnership between the two countries, according to Mr Kenyatta, has brought great benefits to the people of Kenya especially in areas of poverty alleviation and economic development.
On his response, President Jinping praised Kenya for attending both the first and the current BRF conference saying the Kenyan leader is a witness and core participant of the globally transformative Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The conference aims at promoting global growth and economy through policy coordination among participating economies, infrastructure connectivity, trade investment and industrial cooperation.
President Jinping also praised President Kenyatta for pursuing national reconciliation after his re-election in 2017 which he said has created a conducive environment for the implementation of the Kenyan government’s big 4 development agenda.
Speaking to the media after the frozen avocadoes into the Chinese market deal, Mr Munya assured that it will immensely benefit Kenyan farmers especially small-holder growers of the crop by not only expanding the market but also improving the prices.
He encouraged farmers in avocado growing counties to take advantage of the new market by increasing the volumes of production and enhancing quality standards to meet the stringent Chinese regulations.
The BRI, started by China in its efforts to boost people-to-people exchanges, brings together over 150 countries from Africa, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Kenya and South Africa are key participants of the BRI from the African continent.
China has grown to become one of Kenya’s key development partners, in recent years, a relationship that has among other successes led to the implementation of key infrastructure projects among them the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and several key roads.
On the sideline of the conference, President Kenyatta met and held talks with the First Vice Premier of the Communist Party of China Han Zheng during which the two leaders discussed the strengthening relations between Kenya and China.
He also met the International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde.