By Bernard Muhia

I heard the best selling point any farmer would want to hear when buying seedlings, “We will buy the avocados from you once the trees mature and start producing fruit” Said Mr. Said Hakim, the  marketing manager at Avocado Nurseries Isinya. The nursery is part of Isinya Roses, a sister company to Porini Flowers. Avocado nurseries are currently producing avocado seedlings for sale to farmers.

Being one of the KEPHIS certified seedling growers, Avocado nurseries is a sure bet if you are thinking of getting into avocado farming. The nursery boasts of 250,000 seedlings on 2.5 acres that are currently one year old and ready for sale. A single seedling is going for Kshs. 350 which is more than a roadside seller will give you at, but what it exceeds in price it coves in survival rate which the  propagation manager Mr. Shankar Rajendran confidently puts at 99%.

The nursery uses an Israeli system that has sensors to check for humidity and automatically adjusts the irrigation system accordingly thus ensuring that there is no water clogging. This protects against phytophthora cinnamomi which is root rot. Avocados are sensitive to water clogging and to protect against this, the farm uses cocopeat, pumile and padding husks imported from Sri Lanka as media to plant the seedlings.

The reason for this is that this media does not clog up with water unlike cotton soil which is what is found In Isinya. The nursery is also laid out on raised metal platforms about a foot from the ground for the same reason.

The company sources for the best avocados from farmers in Kisii County which they ripen and then remove the avocado seed which they then treat and plant in their nursery. The commercial nursery started in June 2018 after a pilot in 2017. The farm also intends to grow their own avocados in Molo and also import a processing machine for value addition. The field preparation is recommended to be pits that are 2ft by 2ft by 2ft of length, width and depth.

When digging the pit, the first foot of top soil is laid on one side and the second foot is laid on the other side. This is to ensure that when planting the seedling, you mix the 1st foot of top soil with manure and put it at the bottom of the pit first and then the second foot of bottom soil comes on top. It’s like flipping the pit soil upside down.

The tree spacing recommended which is ultrahigh density is 4m by 3m. This is 4m between rows and 3m between plants. This spacing is for the first 8 years after which you can cut down one row vertically so that the spacing doubles to 4m by 6m and after another 8 years you cut down a row horizontally doubling the spacing again to 8m by 6m.

Once the seedlings are planted, Mr. Rajendran recommends 2-3 days of delayed irrigation until the seedlings start to show signs of distress and then start irrigation at an average of 2 litres spread out to prevent clogging.

Once seedlings are a year old, they can be graduated to 5 litres of water and 10 litres on the second year. It is on the second year that the tree starts to flower but Rajendran recommends pinching the flowers so that they don’t fruit. This he says causes stress to the plant. It is on the third year that you can allow the flowers to fruit. By the 6th year, the tree should give you 800-1000 fruits per year for the next 30 years.

To aid in pollination, you can plant Hass variety every 4 rows and Fuerte on the 5th row. The nursery won the award for second best GAP 2019 avocado nursery of the year, their first year as members of the Avocado Society of Kenya.

It also has a KEPHIS phytosanitary certificate, a KEPHIS GAP certificate and a HCD certificate. Their desire to maintain high standards extends even to the farmers they intend to sell seedlings to. This will be achieved through offering free consultation to the farmers up until the seedlings mature. Rajendran also plans to organize annual farmers’ meetings to teach best practices with the first meeting set for Murang’a County. He is also advising farmers to form cooperatives so that his farm can easily buy avocados from them in bulk for export.

Share This


Wordpress (0)
Disqus ( )
× Whatsapp us