Avocado farmers smile all the way to the bank

Avocado farmers smile all the way to the bank

An increase in avocado prices on the international market has been sweet news for farmers and exporters of the fruit.

Rising global demand for the avocado has been fuelled by a desire for healthy eating and lower production in some countries. In Kenya, too, this is an off-year for avocadoes, meaning production is expected to be much less than last year. The country is ranked eighth globally in avocado production.

Exporters say this will further affect the prices of the fruit and avocado oil in the months to come. Global prices remain unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with reports indicating that export prices have risen to as much as Sh800 per four-kilogramme pack.

New avocado markets for Kenya include the United States, China, and South Korea. The country is also seeking to expand existing markets in the Middle East and Australia.

According to statistics by the Horticulture Directorate, the prices as at last November 2020 represented a 33 per cent increase compared to the same month of the previous year, when a four-kilo package sold at Sh600 in the export market.

Rising production, revenues
The avocado fruit brings in close to a half of the total revenues from the fruits sub-sector in Kenya’s horticultural industry. The country’s avocado exports rose 15 per cent to 68,000 metric tonnes over the 12 months to October, fetching Sh14 billion. This was an increase from the previous year’s production of 59,000 tonnes, which fetched Sh10 billion.

With the steady increase in avocado earnings in recent years, more farmers have taken up farming the crop. National statistics show that in 2018/2019, more than 5.7 million seedlings were planted across the country. The Hass variety was the most popular, with 3,587,904 seedlings planted. The Fuerte variety was second, with 2,021,236 seedlings. Other less popular varieties included the Avocado Rootstock and Golden Hass.

Nairobi led with slightly more than 1 million seedlings, followed by Murang’a with 717,200 seedlings. Other counties with impressive figures in the hundreds of thousands included Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Kiambu, Nyeri, Laikipia, and Kericho. Overall, the crop is becoming popular across the country, and is grown in counties with climatic patterns that range from the cold of Nyandarua to the heat of Makueni.
As a mark of its place in the industry regionally and globally, Kenya is set to host the Avocado Africa 2021 Congress from 23-25 June in Nairobi. The theme of the conference will be, “Avocado Africa: A convergence of technology and business for increased competitiveness and trade. The event will be expected to draw participants from the avocado sector across the world. The platform aims to stimulate trade, technology, knowledge transfer and sharing.

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