Chilli prices in Kenya have dropped by half following increased supply locally as restrictions from the European market due to the presence of the Codling Moth pest continue to take a toll on farmers.
The restrictions follow the European Union’s move to tighten up the rules following the presence of Codling Moth pests on Kenyan chilli, which are quarantine insects in Europe. This has seen nearly all traders that used to export to that market stop for fear of product rejection.
Growers have now opted to concentrate on the Middle East market, but it is not as lucrative as the European one, forcing traders to offload a lot of the produce locally. “Over 90 percent of the firms that used to export chilli to Europe have stopped because of the presence of this pest. The move has since seen high volume of chilli locally,” said Ojepati Okesegere, chief executive officer of Fresh Producers Consortium of Kenya.
For exporters to meet the requirements for Europe's lucrative market, they need to put in place a costly mechanism to contain the pest. These include fumigation using phosphine gas, creating pest free zones that have to be approved by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) or to export dry chilli. However, dried chilli cannot fetch as good a price as the fresh and that is why most firms are avoiding the option.
Kenya’s horticultural produce is continually facing challenges in the world market because of the phytosanitary requirements.