Netherland Trust Fund III Links Kenyan Avocado Growers with International Buyers
An annual Fruit Logictica fresh produce trade show in Berlin has borne fruit for the avocado industry in Kenya. Over 40 tonnes of avocados grown by a Kenyan company have been shipped to France, marking the first step in a promising new commercial relationship.
The new exports are linked to a project being implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC),aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the avocado sector in Kenya and connecting producers and exporters in the country to new international buyers. The US$ 1 million project is part of Netherlands Trust Fund III (NTF III) - Export Sector Competitiveness Programme, a sector-development programme funded by the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), and managed and implemented by ITC in Geneva. The avocado project is working with producers, exporters and trade and investment support institutions to provide a new vision for the industry. The goal is to improve the Kenyan avocado value chain through employing better production, post-harvest, sales and marketing techniques so that low-income avocado farmers can reap economic benefits from increased exports. With the project objectives in mind, ITC’s Programme Officer for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, Frédérine Derlot-Copy met with representatives of Israeli agriculture company Mehadrin at the annual Fruit Logistica trade show in Berlin in February 2015. With more than 8,500 hectares of agricultural holdings and annual sales of approximately $300 million, Mehadrin is Israel’s biggest grower and exporter of citrus, fruits and vegetables, shipping more than 70% of its produce overseas to key destinations including Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan. While Mehadrin has 700 hectares of avocado plantations in Israel, as well as long-term supply agreements with other Israeli growers, additional imports are needed to maintain the export cycle to destination markets once the Israeli growing season ends. To fill this gap, Mehadrin buys avocados from suppliers in countries such as South Africa, Peru and Chile. “The meeting at Fruit Logistica produced quick and encouraging results,” said Derlot-Copy. Thanks to the dialogue facilitated by ITC, Mehadrin and other international avocado buyers contacted a select number of export-ready SMEs among the beneficiaries of the NTFIII project. The Israeli company then arranged a field visit to Nairobi to learn more about the avocado value chain in Kenya, as it is considering adding the country to its list of current suppliers. During their trip in late June, Mehadrin UK Account Manager Graham Lloyd and Senior Agronomist Udi Garni visited Kenyan avocado farms, orchards and packing houses, spoke with growers and held commercial discussions with six of the twelve exporters that are part of the NTFIII project. As a result, Lloyd and Garni decided to examine the possibility of doing business with two of those companies: East African Growers (EAG) and Keitt Exporters Ltd. Mehadrin has already begun commercial activities with EAG, and intends to start buying from Keitt for the 2016 avocado season starting in March. To kick off these commercial relationships, EAG visited Mehadrin France in early July 2015. The Kenyan company has since shipped over 40 tonnes of avocados to France by air and sea. EAG will develop a supply programme for Mehadrin France for the next season, and may also eventually supply the UK market through Mehadrin UK in the medium-term. ‘I wanted to thank ITC for its help in facilitating the relationship with international buyers,’ said Ms Sajani Dutta, in charge of EAG’s fruit-export services. ‘This will enable us to develop a sound and profitable commercial and technical links with international buyers such as Mehadrin. Beyond its new affiliation with EAG and Keitt, Mehadrin is also interested in developing a technical cooperation with ITC within the framework of NTFIII, said Derlot-Copy. To mark the start of this collaboration, Mehadrin invited a Kenyan delegation to its headquarters in Israel. As a result, Kenyan representatives from EAG, Keitt and Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) of Kenya will travel to Israel in the first quarter of 2016, in order to learn from their Israeli partner’s experiences at every step of the value chain. They will be able to share good practices, setting the stage for strong and lasting collaboration in the future. ‘This kind of cooperation will upgrade the level of agricultural performance,’ says Dov Warmen, Mehadrin’s business development manager. ‘We are interested to continue our communication and activity. Derlot-Copy predicts that collaboration between Mehadrin and the NTFIII project will be “very beneficial from a commercial point of view, and also from a technical point of view. We can learn from their experience and know-how, not only for this project, but also for similar ITC projects focusing on other horticulture sectors in other developing countries”. - See more at: http://www.intracen.org/news/NTFIII-links-Kenyan-avocado-growers-with-international-buyers/#sthash.5HVXJnOa.dpuf  
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