Avocado Farmers Seek Goverment Endorsement In International Markets

Many Kenya farmers have started shifting from other cash crops farming and are now embracing avocado farming.

In Kenya, avocado farming was introduced by the Portuguese way Back in 1930 and the country has in recent times been exporting thousands of metric tons per year. According to the Horticultural Crops Directorate In 2023, the country witnessed a 30% revenue elevation from the prior year, as per Kenya export Branding.

Kenya exports two varieties, Fuerte and Hass avocado. These are true treasures of nature, packed with essential nutrients and health benefits, and have led to significant growth of the Kenya economy hence creating a livelihood for small-scale farmers.

Fuerte variety is a crossbreed between Guatemalan and Mexican varieties and it is Soo resistant to disease compared to hass varieties but it’s not market-friendly since it has fewer customers and its self-life is low.

Kirinyaga county government year 2021 through the Wezesha Kirinyaga empowerment program gave 60,000 Avocado seedlings to 314 groups to boost avocado farming in Kirinyaga and the rise is expected to be seen this year.

Habel Ndinga Karari,72 years old retired Secondary school teacher from Kiamurunga village, Kirinyaga Central, Kirinyaga County is a successful small-scale avocado farmer with a sight disability.

Ndinga on his 2-acre piece of land, has planted 464 trees of Hass avocado where last year he produced more than 14 tonnes which gave him a good profit margin and he is expecting an increase this year.

” I tried Daily cow farming but it cannot be compared with the Avocado business since you get paid on the farm as you have agreed with the buyer. Avacado farming also requires less time and manpower. To small-scale farmers, all you need is the best tree breed and you can make a good profit,” he explained.

He said that the only challenges they experience as avocado farmers are fake farm chemicals and a lack of knowledge of avocado farming.

“If people are well vast they can produce good fruit for export. When one requires an extension officer they have to come on your invitation as a farmer” said Ndinga.

Elijah Kamau Njoroge, director of Morfarm Fresh Fruit Exporters who is a farmer and exporter said avocado can be grown from seeds or seedlings whereas others like the Hass variety are Grafted to improve the variety by increasing its disease resistance, improving yield and increasing its adaptability to different soil depending on the area to be planted.

Kamau said an Avacado tree starts producing fruit 2-3 2-3 years after planting but will give good yields in the fifth year. He says one avocado tree can produce a minimum of a thousand fruit within ten years

Avacado, like any other bearing fruit trees, needs to be pruned for good distribution of sunlight which can be done once when need be. Prunning when done at the right time can help in influencing the amount and quality of fruit production and maintain the height and formation of the tree.

He adds that Avocado is an important commercial fruit in both local and external markets since its market starts at the doorstep at the village level.

” The fruit is highly nutritious rich in proteins and cholesterol free. That is why it’s demand is increasing daily but we have few farmers in the business. This year we are expecting an increase of not less than 30% from last year’s exports,”  he explained.

He added that we have both large and small-scale avocado farmers but still, we are not getting enough for the demand is very high. He has called on the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to provide extension services to the Avocado farmers. He cited that one of the challenges farmers face is the lack of enough information on how to farm the crop and the market.

He noted that countries like Chile are leading in avocado farming since their government has embraced crop farming. He said if it would be possible for the government when it has tree planting days to give avocado seedlings to farmers instead of other trees to be planted it would increase avocado production and generate more income.

“As a farmer and exporter we have not seen much support from the national government as it is done in the coffee and tea industry, when it comes to policies there is less that we give and may be of benefit in the avocado sector,” he added.

He said avocado farming does not face more challenges than other cash crops, it’s a business between the buyer and the seller thus having fewer cartels interfering.

He called on farmers to work as a group to see the benefits of avocado farming to gain government support.

Early this year Horticultural Crops Directorate acting director Christie Chesaro clarified that the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) did not ban the export of Kenya avocados. Thus assuring Kenyans that there is no ban on exporting avocados to the international market since the closure of harvesting season was affected to allow for the fruits to mature.