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Avocado production set to boom as locals eye export market

Sunday May 6 2018

A trader selling avocados at Kangemi market in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO| NMG

A trader selling avocados at Kangemi market in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO| NMG 

ANITA CHEPKOECH
By ANITA CHEPKOECH
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The growing export market for avocado has caught the eye of farmers in Kericho, traditionally a tea growing zone.

And now area leaders have launched a campaign to scale up adoption of the fruit, with 2,000 seedlings set to be distributed to farmers.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Kapsoit MCA Paul Chirchir, Ainamoi MP Sylvannus Maritim and Woman Representative Florence Bore.

The seedlings have been certified by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis).

“With a huge market abroad for Hass avocado, we decided to start its farming to positively impact lives. We have set off today on a path of economic empowerment using available resources,” said Mr Chirchir during the launch of the project at Kapsoit. 

Mr Maritim said the campaign also seeks to achieve proper nutrition and food security “as enshrined in President Kenyatta’s Big Four development agenda”.

“To ensure the project works, we will follow up with the beneficiaries and give a timely report,” he said.

Kephis MD Esther Kimani said avocado’s popularity is rising in the global market. 

Demonstrating the importance of avocado as a door to Kenya’s economic growth and development, Ms Kimani said a single tree can yield more than 1,000 fruits annually, making it suitable for small-scale land owners.

Sold at an average of Sh10 each, it means a single tree can fetch more than Sh10,000.

Production usually starts two and a half years after planting. Hass and Fuerte varieties are the most sought-after.

The latter is said to be a good pollinator popular with exporters while the former is more popular in Europe.

Countries that buy avocados from Kenya include United Arab Emirates, the UK, Egypt, The Netherlands, France, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Spain, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Germany and Hong Kong.

The government also plans to expand to emerging markets such as Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. 

Speaking on behalf of Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri,  Mr Kello Warsama of State of department of crops, said Kericho could diversify its crops beyond tea to improve livelihoods.