The Kenya Avocado Society is in a fresh drive to recruit farmers to plant Hass avocado variety at a time when the demand of the crop is high in international markets such as China with populations keen on consuming healthy fruits and food.
According to Oxnard, the largest distributor of avocados in the world, avocado sales to China this year is expected to double compared to a similar period last year.
China one of the world’s largest importer of avocados, imported 32,100 tonnes of the fruit in 2017 up from 31.8 tonnes in 2011.
In Kenya, the price of a 90kg bag of avocados has risen to a three and half year to Sh2560 the highest price since 2014 according to the Directorate of Horticulture.
Meshack Kamau displaying Hass avocado fruits at the 2018 international flower expo in Nairobi. Photo: FarmBiz Africa
Kenya produces an estimated 115,000 metric tonnes of avocados annually, 70 per cent of which is grown by smallholder farmers.
In Africa, Kenya is the second largest exporter of avocados after South Africa.
Kenya’s dried avocado export has been rising, with the country selling 46.7 tons to the international market in 2016.
The figure was higher by 7.8 tons than what was exported in 2015. Kenya earned 6.5 billion shillings and 5.2 billion shillings in 2016 and 2015 respectively, according to the Kenya national bureau of Statistics.
In February this year, shortage of the commodity led to ban of exports as some farmers were accused of picking immature fruits which were not suitable for both local and international markets.
“We are recruiting farmers all over the country to plant avocados in a five year investment plan that is set to earn farmers more income than maize for instance while at the same time increasing forest cover in the currently from the current 6.2 per cent to 10 per cent,” said Meshack Kamau, the sales and marketing officer at the Kenya Avocado Society.
To join the society one has to pay an annual subscription fee of Sh1000 and will get seedlings at a subsidized price.
“We sell avocado seedlings to members at Sh200 compared Sh300 for non-members,” said Kamau.
According to the society, a farmer can plant 100 trees in a one acre piece of land.
In this, one tree can yield between 600 to 800 fruits per season meaning a farmer can harvest between 60,000 and 80,000 fruits per acre in two and half years’ time.
With each fruit retailing at an average of Sh50 a farmer can thus earn between three and four million shillings per acre per season.
The Kenya Avocado Society can be reached on +254 723 491 549 or +254 722 575 544