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How The Government Supporting Hass avocado Farming

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.

POLICIES

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.

MARKETING

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.

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6 REASONS WHY FARMERS ARE SHIFTING FROM COFFEE TO HASS AVOCADO FARMING

Since it’s becoming difficult to gain profit from growing coffee, farmers in Kenya are switching to new ways of earning money. Over the past few years, coffee prices in the global market have been falling at an alarming rate. For this reason, farmers in various parts of the country have shifted to hass avocado farming which is more lucrative compared to coffee. Apart from the rising demand, competitive prices, and favorable climatic conditions, avocados are easy to plant and harvest.  The costs of production for farming avocados are relatively low. Due to the high demand, farmers save transportation costs since buyers prefer to purchase the produce on the farm before someone else does. Furthermore, it is easier to boost production since farmers can keep bees to promote pollination.

One variety that has become popular among farmers is hass avocado. This is because of its rising demand in the local and international markets, more yield, healthy benefits, and fast maturity. Currently, hass avocado is the second profitable crop after coffee but if the trend continues, it will overtake coffee in a couple of years.

Reasons Why Farmers Are Shifting From Coffee To Hass Avocado Farming

Favorable climate

The effects of climate change such as unpredictable weather patterns and cold and dry spells have affected coffee farming and increased the cost of production. Unfortunately, the income from coffee has been relatively low making the crop unattractive. Kenya’s climatic condition favors avocado farming especially high altitude areas such as Central Kenya. However, the crop can thrive nearly in all parts of the country. The temperate climate in the country is well suited for hass avocado cultivation. Since they perform well in dry and wet regions, farmers are finding this crop a better alternative to coffee.

Increased Demand

The demand of hass avocados in the local and international market has mainly been fueled by its nutritional health benefits. The demand is increasing in the developed countries where they care more about health, considering that most Kenyan avocados are produced organically and chemical use is limited. Hass avocado is common in most dishes locally and internationally. For instance, they are the main ingredient in Guacamole, which is popular in Europe, Asia, and America. In Asia, the consumption of Kenyan hass avocados has increased in China which has offered a good and lucrative market for the fruits. China’s population is high and hence it will take a couple of years to meet the rising demand. Some of the countries that are interested in Kenya avocados include Belgium, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Singapore, China, UK, Egypt, Libya, Hong Kong, and Iran.

Hass Avocado
Farmers Harvesting Hass Avocado in Tetu Nyeri

Higher prices

Over the years, coffee prices have shown a downward trend, falling at an alarming rate. Coffee farmers are getting little income from the crop. Due to the low prices, farmers have reduced the acreage under coffee and shifted to better-paying crops. For instance, one kilo of coffee is retailing for KES 55 in the Kenyan market and only KES 115 in the international market. In the international market, one carton with 10 avocado fruits even goes for KES240. This shows that the yield of 7 avocado trees can even generate more income that 500 coffee trees.

More yield

The average yield of hass avocado is higher compared to coffee. For instance, when well-spaced, one acre can occupy about 110 trees. When using the high-density method, one acre can hold up to 400 trees. When proper farming methods are employed, each mature tree can produce about 100 to 600 fruits. This shows that the yield of about 30 trees is even higher than that of one acre of coffee. For this reason, farmers are shifting to this crop since it has more yield and higher prices in the local and international markets. Furthermore, the crop can grow alongside banana and other crops, especially in terraced orchards hence more income to the farmer.

Less Labor

Hass avocado trees require little maintenance but produce more yields per tree and hence a good earner crop, unlike coffee. Unlike hass avocado, coffee needs constant pruning to keep the bushes in good health and under control which increases labor and costs of production. Hass avocados can only be pruned once in a while to promote light penetration, reduces instances of fungal diseases, and encourage regular shoot and branch renewal. Oxfarm does planting for customers at a package of 40, 500 per acre.

Prompt payment

Unlike coffee where farmers have to supply coffee berries and wait for months before they get paid, payments are prompt for hass avocados. The market is liberalized and the prices competitive, unlike coffee where farmers have to sell their coffee through cooperatives. Buyers compete for avocado fruits on the farm make payments immediately they get the produce.

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WE ARE HIRING

Sales Manager

Oxfarm Ag Ltd is seeking to hire a Sales Manager who will be responsible for supervising and organizing our sales team. You will be in charge of managing organizational sales by developing business plans, meeting planned goals, and coordinating with our marketing department on lead generation. You will also be tasked with overseeing the activities and performance of your sales team by tracking sales goals, setting individual sales targets, and facilitate the ongoing training of your salespeople.

In order to succeed in this role, you will need excellent communication skills and the ability to lead a sale team. Previous experience in a sales-related role is a plus.

Sales Manager Responsibilities:

  • Managing organizational sales by developing a business plan that covers sales, revenue and expense controls.
  • Meeting planned sales goals.
  • Setting individual sales targets with the sales team.
  • Tracking sales goals and reporting results as necessary.
  • Overseeing the activities and performance of the sales team.
  • Coordinating with marketing on lead generation.
  • The ongoing training of your salespeople.
  • Developing your sales team through motivation, counseling and product knowledge education.
  • Promoting the organization and products.
  • Understand our ideal customers and how they relate to our products.

Sales Manager Requirements:

  • Experience in planning and implementing sales strategies.
  • Experience in customer relationship management.
  • Experience managing and directing a sales team.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Dedication to providing great customer service.
  • Ability to lead a sale team.

How to Apply

Send your CV and cover letter to ask@oxfarm.co.ke on or before 15th March 2020. Kindly note only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

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Why You Should Buy Hass Avocado Seedlings from Certified Nurseries

Hass Avocado Seedlings in our Nurseries

Why hass avocado?

Hass avocado is preferred because of its greater yield and long harvest season. They have a tough skin and hence are not easily damaged during shipping and transportation.

Avocado farming is not new in Kenya. Most rural homes have an avocado tree in their farm and harvest twice a year. Globally, Kenya is the 6th producer of avocado. However, not most families do commercial avocado farming especially hass avocados. Most avocado trees in rural homes have little yields. Currently, the country produces about 115,000 tonnes of avocado per year. As more farmers venture into avocado farming, this set is expected to increase. Hass avocado is the most popular variety that has shown an upward trend as its demand in the export market increases and more people become aware of its health benefits.

Success in farming starts with high-quality hass avocado seedlings. With proper farming methods, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest and the amazing flavor of fruits. The yields of hass avocado trees are higher compared to other trees. A mature tree can produce more than a million flowers and blooms twice per year. It has a fast maturity and has a lifespan of several decades.

However, you need to be careful when buying seedlings. Purchasing seedlings from roadside sellers can ruin your entire avocado farming venture since they take longer to mature and only produce low yields. There are various reasons why you should buy hass avocado seedlings from certified nurseries. These include;

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Hass Avocado Seedlings From Certified Nurseries

Quality assurance

Seedlings in certified nurseries are obtained through grafting, whereby two parts of a plant are joined together to form a stronger plant. These seedlings are of high quality and perform better than those from uncertified nurseries. Since quality management systems monitor the hass avocado seedlings in these nurseries, the purity of seedlings is ensured. High quality seedlings mean that if proper farming methods are employed, the trees will produce a large number of fruits that are of high quality.

best hass avocado seedlings for better production

Short maturity

Some seedlings from non-certified nurseries take ages to mature. In certified nurseries, you can beassured that the trees will reach maturity faster hence early flowering and fruit formation. It is therefore ideal for commercial purposes.

Risk management

Using certified seedlings gives the farmer a better chance at landing a good crop insurance deal.

Access to new opportunities

Certified hass seedlings enable farmers to access new opportunities since the proof the avocado variety can be provided. Also, farmers can easily access identity-preserved markets.

New genetics

Grafted seedlings in certified nurseries are tolerant to adverse climatic conditions and resistant to pests. Hass avocado seedlings from these nurseries are resistance to certain viruses, soil nematodes, and viruses. They are tolerant of harsh conditions such as drought and salinity.

Where to Buy

Hass avocado seedlings can be purchased from a certified nursery where farmers can be trained and get equipped with information on how they can take care of their seedlings to get the best performance. Farmers can also get information on phytosanitary conditions that are required for them to access the hass avocado export market. For farmers who want to venture into this lucrative business, they should consider purchasing seedlings from Oxfarm Ag Ltd who offer high quality, grafted seedlings that mature within a short period.

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Basic methods of improving your Hass avocado productivity

Hass Avocado Farming

Fruit farming is an important venture but becomes more interesting and profitable when it is done as an agribusiness. There are various ways in which you can improve your hass avocado productivity. These include;

Planting in Suitable Climate

When growing hass avocado for commercial purposes, climate plays an important role in determining if your plants thrive. They should be planted in a suitable climate that favors avocado farming for optimum production. Hass avocado thrives in average temperatures ranging from 140C to 270C. The plant requires high humidity, especially during the flowering and fruit setting stage.

Constant Irrigation of Hass Avocado

Soil moisture is an important factor that should be taken into consideration in hass avocado farming. During vegetative growth, avocado orchards grow vigorously and require constant irrigation. During the dry season, reduced irrigation slows down the growth rate. In poorly drained soils, the plants should be irrigated at a controlled rate to enable them to take up water efficiently and to minimize waterlogging. Avocado plants are sensitive to frost and hence water stress should be minimized during the flowering and fruiting stage.

Fertilization

Hass avocado plants require nutrients throughout their growth. Although they can grow in all types of soils, they perform better in fertile and well-drained soils. Organically, this can be done by applying manure regularly. Plants respond well to heavy manure application, especially when it contains high nitrogen content. Fertilizers should be applied based on soil and leaf analysis. A complete soil analysis should be conducted a few months before planting to check the nutrient status. Also, an irrigation water analysis and leaf analysis should be conducted. The soil nutrients status, plant size, water quality, plant density, soil nutrients status, and yield expectation determines the type of fertilizer required by the hass avocado plants. However, fertilizers should not be applied to early on young transplanted trees. Fertilizers should be applied when the plants are properly established and growing vigorously. To ensure optimum results, fertigation should be ensured for irrigated hass avocado trees to enable even distribution of fertilizers.

Important Nutrients Required by Hass Avocado

Nitrogen, Potash, and Phosphorus should be applied regularly to the plants especially during vegetative growth. Avocado trees also require Magnesium, Zinc, and Sulphur. For instance, Urea should be applied at an interval of 3-4 months. Nitrogen deficiency causes early leaf shedding, pale, small leaves, slow growth, and yellowing of veins in severe cases. Too much nitrogen, however, results in excessive vegetative growth and reduced production. Regular leaf analysis should be conducted to determine when nitrogen application is required. To achieve healthy production and an excellent growth rate, inorganic fertilizers should be applied along with manure.

Pests and Diseases control

The most efficient and economical method of pest and disease control is prevention. These preventive measures include weed control, proper selection of planting material, maintaining optimum plant density and proper fertilizer application. The presence of pests in avocado plants reduces productivity significantly. 

Pests in avocado production are not common in Kenya. Pest control rarely requires chemical control. To improve avocado productivity, pests and diseases should, however, be controlled. Some major pests that attack avocado include:

  1. Thrips
  2. Scale insects
  3. False codling moth

Fungal diseases also affect hass avocados and need to be controlled early enough. Major diseases are:

  1. Anthracnose. It attacks fruits especially the mature ones forming dark brown spots. It can be controlled by using fungicides such as Mancozeb, Triforine, Metiram, and Benomyl.
  2. Root Rot. This disease is common in flood-prone areas and places with poorly drained soils and attacks the roots. Some preventive measures include planting grafted hass avocado seedlings. Chemically, it can be controlled using chemicals such as Aliette and Ridomil.
  3. Cespora Fruit Spot. The disease attacks fruits and leaves leaving yellow spots on fruits later on turn brownish. It can be controlled with copper-based fungicides such as Mancozeb, Benomyl, and Trifoline.
  4. Scab. It mainly attacks twigs, leaves, and fruits. It can be controlled by spraying fungicides such as Mancozeb and Triforine.

Other Factors Influencing Productivity

Mulching

Mulching minimizes soil erosion especially in sloping orchards and minimizes water loss through evaporation. This will help to minimize moisture stress.

Tree Spacing

Spacing is a key factor in maintaining and maximizing productivity. Good spacing helps in ensuring aeration in the orchard. High-density plantation results in higher production although it leads to problems in canopy cultivation in later years.

Pollination

Avocado trees are not self-pollination plants in nature and hence require artificial pollination for fruit production. Cross-pollination with another cultivar is important for the best fruit setting. Practicing bee farming near avocado farms can improve pollination in hass avocados.