The national government through Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) in collaboration with the county government of Nyamira with other stakeholders is set to launch avocado farming in the county which for long has been dominated by banana, tea and coffee among other cash crops to help the producers diversify their food and nutrition security as well as source for income.
This follows the more than 500 farmers that KEPHIS trained last year August on terms and standards to adhere to so as to access the local and international markets with the produce.
“Even after the last year training, we have realised that there is slow uptake of the venture among farmers in the region. Currently, there is limited avocado and other fruit nurseries in Nyamira something which is derailing avocado production despite the emerging markets,” said Pamela Kibwage, Phytosanitary officer at KEPHIS.
The event which will be held at Nyamira’s Nyamaiya Stadium on 7th this month beginning 9:00 am will be graced by Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri, CS Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries as the Chief Guest and H.E John Nyangarama Governor, Nyamira County as the Guest of Honour and over 500 farmers among other stakeholders.
According to Milton Patrice Ongeri, the chairperson of Kilimo Bora Public and Private Partnership group (KBPPP) which has over 225 farmers in the county, over 27agricultural organisations and companies have confirmed their participation.
“We are looking forward to having more partners coming on board to train and educate farmers on the latest technologies in avocado production. This will enable the growers begin looking at the fruit as a potential and alternative source of income and food,” said Ongeri.
The event is themed “Crop Diversification for Food and Nutrition Security, Improved Incomes and Sustainable Standards of Living”.
KEPHIS has been urging to use certified seeds so as to boost production as the agency’s statistics indicate that the informal sector in Kenya accounts for about 60-70 per cent of most seeds planted by farmers across the country. These seeds are usually uncertified therefore denying farmers the chance to maximize yields in their farms.
“We hope this time round we will find more farmers to even venture in different fruits nursery seedling production especially raising avocado seedlings to kick off production. In this, we are aiming to take them through on how to become a certified nursery producer,” said Kibwage.
Currently, a single avocado seedling sells at Sh150-200 in Kenya.
Avocado farming has increasingly been adopted in recent years by Kenyan farmers, especially smallholder farmers who account to over 70 per cent of the total production.
It has been estimated that Kenya produces 119,000 metric tonnes of avocado annually, three-quarters of which end up in expanding export markets.
Moreover, avocados have grown to represent 17 per cent of Kenya’s total horticultural exports.