Chilli producers previously exporting to Europe have now shifted to the Middle East as the Codling Moth pest continues to impact negatively business in the European Union (EU).
This follows the EU’s restriction based on the insects, which is a quarantine pest in Europe.
Subsequently more than 90 percent of the firms that used to export to the bloc avoid the market for fear of rejection.
However, Kenyan farmers increasingly opting to sell chilli in the Middle-East market where they cannot get a good price like in Europe, where the produce is in high demand.
“Over 90 percent of the firms that used to export chilli to Europe have stopped because of the presence of Codling Moth pest that is a quarantine pest in Europe,” said Ojepati Okesegere, chief executive at Fresh Producers Consortium of Kenya.
For the exporters to meet the requirements for the lucrative market, they need to put in place a costly mechanism to contain the pest.
These include fumigation using phosphine gas, create a pest-free zone that the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) has to approve or export dry chilli.
“Dry chilli cannot fetch a good price as the fresh one would. That is why most firms are avoiding this option,” Mr Okesegere told the Business Daily an interview.
Kenya’s horticultural produce is continually facing challenges in the international markets because of the phytosanitary requirements.
For instance, local avocado has been given stringent rules to adhere to before it accesses the lucrative Chinese market.
Under a deal agreed in April between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Kenya would only be allowed to export frozen avocado as a way of taming fruit flies, which are common in Kenya.
The Kephis is still trying to come up with the remedy for controlling the moth now posing a serious threat to the sector.
Australia has also tightened rules on local flowers to enforce fumigation as required by the law.