Hass avocado is a variety that has a high demand in the local and international markets. Due to its high demand, hass avocado farmers are earning more than two times compared to those growing other varieties such as Keitt and Fuerte. Annually, Kenya produces about 115, 000 tons of avocados with small scale farmers producing about 70%. Currently, Kenya exports about 75% of the produce while 25% is consumed locally. Avocado farming is mainly done in Rift Valley Counties, Upper Eastern Region, Central Region, Western and Some parts of Nyanza region. With the high demand and good prices in the international market, the government has been making efforts to support hass avocado farming. This includes;
ISSUING HASS AVOCADO SEEDLINGS
Various counties have issued seedlings to farmers as a way of encouraging them to venture into the lucrative business. County governments such as Baringo, Kiambu, Meru, Embu, Nyeri, and Muranga have provided farmers with grafted seedlings, offered them technical support and helped them to acquire subsidized agro chemicals. This way, farmers will be able to get the value of their money and manage to become economically stable. For instance, as a way of maximizing production, Murang’a County is targeting to provide about 1 million seedlings to farmers. Also, the county has encouraged farmers to form groups to boost their marketing power in the international market.
Nyeri County is also supporting farmers by issuing seedlings to farmers. For instance, in 2018, the county government provided 81,000 Kephis certified seedlings and 52,600 seedlings in 2019. Also, the county government organized a farmers’ workshop to equip them with skills and knowledge on how they can make hass avocado a profitable venture.
In 2007, Kenya lost the market for avocados when South Africa said that most fruit production areas were infested with fruit flies. After intervention by Karlo and KEPHIS, the export market for avocados was reopened bringing the standoff that had lasted more than 10 years to an end. To ensure that the country does not lose the key global markets, KEPHIS has introduced new regulations that will control almost all steps of production and export. The fresh regulations will help ensure that the avocado produce is of high standards.
The international market especially the European one is strict when it comes to MRLs and hence pesticideuse has to be applied at the recommended rates only. To maintain the South African market, fruit fly monitoring shall begin three months before harvesting and continue throughout the harvesting period. Also, KEPHIS shall conduct thorough pest monitoring, especially on fruits being exported to South Africa.
Production sites, pack houses, and storage facilities should be approved by KEPHIS, especially for fruits destined to be exported to China, Europe, and South Africa. Through KEPHIS, the national government has been educating and monitoring farmers and exporters to help them understand the global market standards and how they can adhere to the set regulations.
The government has also supported hass avocado farming by opened new markets for Kenyan avocado. With support from the national and county governments and readily available market, many farmers have ventured into hass avocado farming. The profitability of hass avocados has even attracted counties such as Uasin Gishu who have started educating farmers on the need to venture into high-value crops such as macadamia and avocado. Kenya mainly exports avocado to China, South Africa, and Europe, especially to Netherlands, Spain, France, UK, Belgium, and Russia. There is also a substantial market for avocados in Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Egypt and upcoming markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
The government has also negotiated with companies such as Kakuzi to buy directly to farmers hence eliminating middlemen who exploit the farmers.
Recently, Kenya signed a deal with China, opening a market for Kenyan avocados in China. With a large population, China might be consuming more than 40% of Kenyan hass avocados. After negotiations with the national government, China agreed to reduce the levy on Kenyan avocados from 30% to 7% to help people export without straining.