Kenya gets green light for US bean export

Kenya has received the green light for export of French beans to the US.

The move follows improvements in washing, packaging and processing of beans and could earn farme more billions

The permission precedes a 12-year ban and five years of intense lobbying by fresh produce growers.

The move will now open a new frontier, beyond Europe, for the country’s 15,0000 bean farmers. Import of Kenyan beans has been banned into the US since the year 2000, making the decision by the US Department of Agriculture, a landmark ruling for the country’s horticultural industry.

“We are amending the fruits and vegetable regulations to allow the importation of French and runner beans from Kenya into the US,” said the country’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in a statement.

Dr Stephen Mbithi, the chief executive officer of the Fresh Produce and Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), said the permission followed upgrading of standards along the value chain. “They have inspected our pre-export processing conditions and found them satisfactory,” said Dr Mbithi.

French beans accounted for 29 per cent, Sh4 billion of Kenya’s total earnings from vegetable exports of Sh13.7 billion last year.

The US’ opening comes at a time when Kenya’s exports are being affected by falling demand in Europe following the debt crisis brought about by the continent’s highly indebted countries, such as Greece and Spain. The US will, however, limit its market scope to protect its own small-scale farmers from price shocks.

US Department of Agriculture data shows that imports of 3,500 tonnes of French beans pulled prices down by $12.35 per tonne, leading to a fall in US domestic production of 1,838 tonnes.


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