Avocado farming in Kenya presents a good opportunity venture not only for large scale growers but also to a growing population of small scale farmers. This is because the country’s domestic and export market is growing at a high rate, thanks to the new Hass variety.
The variety has risen in popularity due to its high production capacity and a surging global demand. Avocados nutritional health benefit is also a major factor that is boosting this demand since many people around the globe have become aware of it.
Soloplant Kenya which is a well renowned propagator of roses have come to the aid of farmers by diversifying to avocado propagation. The company which was situated in Magana, near Kikuyu relocated to Kabati, Murang’a County an area whose climatic conditions are favorable for propagation. They have partnered with Amiran Kenya who have a lot of experience in Israel agribusiness; for consultancy services as well as providing them with farm inputs.
“Soloplant began this project of avocadoes last year, we are the first company to venture into largescale commercial production of seedlings in this region. We built a separate facility for avocado propagation and, like with our rose seedlings, we do it in most professional way paying attention to every detail in plant development process. Currently, there are close to one hundred and fifty thousand seedlings in our propagation unit and we have received orders of seedling of up to one hundred hectares,” revealed Anna Nosareva, Soloplant Sales and Marketing Manager.
Interestingly, the company is receiving some orders from small scale farmers who visit them to be taught dos and don’ts as far as avocado farming is concerned.
The company started propagation process from the germination of avocado seeds. Local avocado variety was used as a rootstock contributing to ability of future trees to be best suited for Kenyan growing conditions. Once the rootstock plants are three months old, they grafted the rootstock with the scion of Hass variety.
Afterwards, the grafted seedlings are taken through the hardening process which takes close to four-five months to be fully hardened. This process according to Anna is vital as it ensures the plants are able to survive in local growing conditions as well as it ensures that the plants attain uniformity of one meter high before they are delivered to growers.
“We take care of our avocadoes the same way babies are taken care of, by ensuring we feed them well and on time also taking good care of them,” Anna elucidated.
Grafted avocados seedlings take close to a year to be fully ready for planting in the field. This according to Anna is a long period compared to roses which takes thirty days to be ready for transplanting. The captivating side of the avocadoes is that they are a strong plant which makes them resistant to major pests and diseases.
“We plan to do two cycles of avocado grafting per year, our first deliveries will be in November and December this year. We have achieved a good success rate for the avocadoes. Every new project encounters challenges. We are lucky to have access to avocado propagation know how through our consultant who guided us through all important stages. This allowed us to build new capabilities and increase our efficiency,” she opined.
Kenya’s Hass Avocados, flower around October and are mature for picking between May to September. To identify the mature avocados, it is important to harvest a few fruits and keep them in favorable conditions to ripen. If the fruits ripen evenly, they can be considered to be mature.
Soloplant is determined to continue its engagement in professional propagation of avocados; keeping and gaining more market share and a wider customer base.