The ban on Kenya’s mango exports to the lucrative EU market could be lifted within a year’s time
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22 January 2020 Author :   Karitu Njagi

But farmers will have to convince the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) that the pest free zones being established in Counties are succeeding in weeding out the mango fruit fly, according to Esther Kimani, the managing director of at KEPHIS.

To win the confidence of importers for instance, plastic traps set up in pest free zones must be able to prove that no single fruit fly has been caught there for days.

“When we get to that level where the trap does not capture anything, that is when now we can write to our trading partners and tell them that we have established a pest free area for mango production,” says Kimani.

Kenya lost the lucrative EU market for mango exports between 2010 and 2014, forcing farmers to hawk their fruits locally for as low as two Kenya shillings due to overproduction.

Still, the pressures of climate change like prolonged drought and floods has affected mango production in the country, with experts linking extreme weather to the rapid multiplication of the fruit fly.

“The mango is the second most produced fruit in the country after the banana. But fruit fly infestation led to the ban on exports to the EU market,” says Makueni County governor, Kivutha Kibwana, adding that the pest causes between 40 to 80 percent of mango losses in Kenya.

Data by TechnoServe indicates that about 49,098 hectares of land are under mango plantation in Kenya, producing 779,147 metric tonnes of the fruit valued at Ksh. 11.9 billion.

Only six counties in Kenya, Keiyo, Marakwet, Tharaka Nithi, Tana river, Makueni, Kilifi and Kwale, have established pest free areas for mango farming.

A pest free area can reduce post-harvest losses due to fruit fly infestation by about 50 percent.

“We want to make the culture of good agricultural practice a way of life for our farmers,” says Kimani.

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