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How to Grow Hass Avocados Organically

Recently, there has been a rising demand for organic crops, especially fruits. The demand for organic hass avocados has been on the upswing in the local and international markets. Farmers have shifted from farming less profitable crops like maize and beans to fruit farming. Although there are more than 40 avocado varieties, hass avocados organically grown is most preferred in the international market since it has a richer taste and higher fat content. The fruit is on high demand in international markets such as the UK, Spain, the Middle East, Russia, and China. In China, it has a market share of more than 70 percent.

How to grow hass avocados organically

Compared to conventional chemical-driven farming, organic hass avocado is cost-effective and hass many benefits. However, to achieve maximum productivity, one needs to understand the soil’s ecosystem in the region. To effectively maintain the soil productivity, the soil should be well aerated and the pH maintained at a constant. Medium sandy loams with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 are suitable for Hass avocado farming. Avocados thrive in well-drained soils and are sensitive to water-logging. Poorly drained soils support the growth of Phytophthora fungi which causes stem and end rot.

Farming Hass avocados organically starts with proper seedlings. Farmers should purchase certified and grafted seedlings for optimum results.

Spacing

The trees should be well spaced to allow free circulation of air. The spacing should range from 6m by 7m to 8m by 10m with a hectare occupying from 125 to 180 trees.

Planting and Fertilization

Planting holes of about 50cm*5cm*50cm should be dug. The topsoil should then be mixed with enough manure and DSP to improve soil fertility. After planting, the young avocado trees should be watered and mulching. Using inorganic fertilizers kills microorganisms due to acidity and degrades the water retention rate in the soil. Farmers should hence consider using compost and manure instead of inorganic fertilizers. To minimize water loss through evaporation, farmers should mulch their young trees with dry leaves or well-dried grass.

Pest control

Biological pest control practices reduce the consumption of chemicals by humans. Growing Hass avocados organically they are prone to mosquitos and whiteflies. Introducing praying mantis can help minimize the mosquito population on the farm. Since they feed in the morning, late afternoon, and at night, they can damage a large number of fruits. Proper sanitation on the farm should be observed. All fallen fruits should be removed since they provide a breeding ground for whiteflies. Alternative hosts such as guavas should not be planted close to hass avocado plants.

Rearing Bees

Bee farming has been a profitable venture for more than a decade. Rearing bees near avocado farms is important since the improve pollination hence increasing the overall yield. 

Why it is important to buy hass avocado seedlings from a certified nursery

It is quite disappointing to buy poor quality seedlings only for them to underperform and produce insignificant yields. Buying seedlings from a certified nursery has many benefits such as;

Risk management

Varietal quality and purity are strictly monitored to facilitate only the production of the best varieties. Certified seedlings enable farmers to have confidence in what they are planting.

Access to new opportunities

Purchasing certified seedlings offer recognizable proof of the variety of your avocado plants and hence farmers can access premium markets with confidence.

New genetics

Certified seedlings are resistant to most pests and tolerate harsh climatic conditions.

conditions.  

Basic methods of improving your Hass avocado productivity

Control Pests and Disease

Prevention is the most economical and efficient way of controlling pests and diseases. These methods include supplying enough nutrients to plants, weed control, maintaining optimum plant density and proper selection of seedlings. In Kenya, pest control rarely requires chemical control. Some major pests that attack Hass avocados include thrips, scale insects, and false codling moth. Avocados are also susceptible to fungal diseases such as root rot, anthracnose, Cercospora fruit spot, and scab. Root rot is common in areas with poorly drained soils, or areas prone to flooding. Farmers should ensure that the soils are aerated and well-drained. It can be prevented by planting grafted seedlings that are resistant to phytophthora fungi. In severe cases, it can be controlled with fungicides such as Ridomill. Anthracnose mainly attacks the mature fruit forming brown spots. Scab attacks the fruit, leaves, and twigs. Cerspora mainly attacks the fruits and leaves leaving yellow spots. These diseases can be controlled using copper-based fungicides with high mancozeb content. Controlling pests and diseases can help in maintaining the quality and quantity of fruits enhancing the productivity of fruit trees.

Introduce bees

Rearing bees helps in enhancing pollination in while growing hass avocados organically which increases the overall yield.
Mulch

Mulching increases the organic matter in the soil and helps in conserving moisture. Also, it enhances water retention which promotes avocado growth. Mulching should be done using well-dried grass, although dry leaves can also be used. As sawdust decomposes, it ties up nitrogen and hence should not be used.

Irrigation

Avocado trees require adequate water throughout the year and hence regular irrigation is important. Sprinklers and jets can be used for irrigation since they wash and knock off pests and eggs on the avocado plants. Water used must be salt-free since avocados are intolerant to salinity.

Pruning
Pruning triggers vegetative growth and helps in removing shoots coming out of the rootstock.

Weeding

Avocado farms should be free from weeds since they act as alternative hosts of pests such as whiteflies.

Manure application
Manure should be added regularly to plants to supply them with the necessary nutrients for optimum yields. Inorganic fertilizers should be used sparingly since they kill microorganisms responsible for decomposition and aeration in the soil.

Yield

The overall yield of Hass avocado trees depends on several factors such as plant density, soil fertility, and proper pest and disease control. Climatic conditions in most parts of the country favor the production of Hass avocados. Pesticides Minimum Residual Levels (MRL) guidelines set by the European and Asian markets remain a challenge to farmers. Without crucial information on pesticide use, fruit farmers are in danger of having their entire produce being rejected by export companies. Organic farming, however, entails minimum use of chemicals and hence the MRL guidelines are not a threat. However, they should ensure that their fruits are of high quality and free from pests and diseases.

After Coffee, Hass avocado is the second profitable crop

Kenyan hass avocado has gained popularity in the international market especially in China and Asian countries where the population is high. Hass avocado is the second most profitable crop after coffee. However, if the available fertile land is utilized and put into hass avocado farming, the crop can overtake coffee. Compared to coffee, the yields per tree are higher in hass avocado. Farmers seeking diversity in agribusiness should consider growing hass avocado. Due to climate change, there has been a significant reduction in avocado production in South Africa and countries in the southern hemisphere like Mexico. These countries were the dominators of the Asian market and hence with the decline in production, there is a ready market for Kenyan avocados.

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Three Main Types of Avocados in Kenya: Why you should plant hass avocados

What is the difference between Hass, Fuerte, and Kienyeji avocados?

Kenya provides an ideal environment for avocados especially due to the subtropical climates. African avocados have gained recognition globally, with the majority of exported avocado varieties being from South Africa and Kenya. Hass and Fuerte are the most exported varieties from Kenya. There are slight differences between Hass, Fuerte, and Kienyeji avocados. For instance,

Hass avocados 

The skin of hass avocado becomes dark when ripe. The ripeness can be determined by a gentle squeeze. They are served when the inside is white-green. This variety has an intense flavor and creamy flesh making it suitable for making guacamole. Hass avocado takes lesser time to mature and produce more yields.

Fuerte avocados

 This variety has a characteristic elongated form with glossy and thin skin. They have a bright green, loose, textured skin that is easy to peel. They do not soften and hence hard to determine when they are ripe. They have a low-fat content and calorie count compared to hass avocados. They are mainly used to make salads since they can be easily sliced and diced.

Kienyeji Avocados

Compared to hass avocado, local avocados are larger in size and have a low-fat content. For instance, 3 slices of kienyeji avocado contain about 3 grams of fat while has avocado contains 4.6 grams. They take a couple of years to mature and some can even take a decade.

Why hass avocado is preferred

The demand of hass avocados in the local and international markets has been increasing over the years. There are various reasons why hass avocado is preferred. These include:

Greater yield

The hass plant is far much preferred for its long harvest season and greater yield.

The hass plant produces greater yield and a long harvest season and hence more revenue to the farmers.

Long shelf life

The fruits have a tough skin which helps in minimizing damaging of fruits during transportation. Compared to other varieties, they have a longer shelf life and can last up to 3 weeks from the time of harvest. Thus makes shipment and handling convenient.

Health benefits

Unlike other varieties, they have more health benefits. For instance, they contain oleic acid which helps in fighting inflammation in the body and protects against diabetes and heart diseases.

Also, they contain antioxidants and important minerals such as carotenoids, copper, and vitamin K.

Fertilizing avocado plants

Fertilizer treatments in avocado farms are determined by soil and leaf analysis results. In less fertile soils, farmers may need to supplement their plants with nutrients that are not in the soil. Adding fertilizers immediately after planting is not recommended since it can burn the roots of the young tree. Some of the nutrients that are required by avocado plants include Nitrogen, Calcium, Boron, and Zinc. The soil pH also plays an important role and should also be taken into consideration.

Nitrogen speeds up vegetative growth and encourages canopy health. Fertilizers containing boron and calcium should be added to enhance flowering, fruit set, and to improve the fruit quality. The soil pH can be regulated by using lime.

Irrigation

Avocado plants require adequate water supply throughout the year. Too much water and little water can have adverse effects on the plants.

When the plants don’t get enough water;

  1. Plants experience stress which results in early flowering and poor fruit set.
  2. Increased flower and fruit abortion
  3. Poor quality fruits and reduced fruit size

Too much water results to;

  1. Nutrient imbalances
  2. Promotes root rot
  3. Reduced tree vigor.
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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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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.

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The greatest challenge facing avocado farming

Following the increase in demand for avocado in the local and international market, farmers have been generating a lot of income.  Farmers in different parts of the country are tuning in to avocado farming to reap something from the profitable industry. In the export market, avocados are likely to be the game-changer crop, especially Hass avocados which are highly nutritious. In the recent past, Europe has been the most targeted market for Kenyan Avocados. China giving a nod to the Kenyan avocados in April was a major development that would boost the avocado market. The IX World Avocado trade show was well attended with many different stands and interesting speakers. According to recent reports, it is evident that big markets in Europe and China are showing more interest in the avocados. For instance, avocado exports to China and Europe have increased by more than 1000 times and the projection is still growing. The consumption of hass avocados has risen by 150% in Europe in one decade, which shows that there is a development in the avocado farming industry.

Yield Depends on Quality of Seedlings

Hass Avocado seedlings at Oxfarm.co.ke Nursery In Ridgeways Nairobi

However, most farmers tend to copy what their neighbors are doing and end up getting disappointed when the fruits are mature and ready for sale. The farmers are not aware that the yield of the avocado trees depends on the quality of the seedlings, the variety, and proper farming methods. Despite the Chinese and European market being huge, it might not benefit all the farmers if they are not properly trained. This means that it will only benefit a small number of people. Although the industry is profitable, it still suffers several challenges which might affect the sales of Kenyan hass avocados in the international market.

The majority of avocado growers are small scale farmers with different methods of production and therefore the quality of the Kenyan avocados varies. There is also a lack of confidence in the international markets due to the claims that the packaging of Kenyan avocados is not strong enough. Initially, the international market for Kenyan avocados was dominated by French importers who exploited the Kenyan production to meet the rising demand in the European market and paying 20-30% lower than the other importers. The European Union has well-documented standards for avocados that China has also embraced even after giving Kenyan avocados a nod. For instance, the EU and China outline that the fruits should be clean and free from debris. Furthermore, they should be free from pests and diseases, the stalk should be intact and mature to enable them to ripen uniformly at room temperature. Also, they must undergo inspection and certification from KEPHIS. The greatest challenge that might face Kenyan avocados is the ability to adhere to international standards.  To prevent loses, farmers should ensure that they plant high quality and certified seedlings. They should employ professional farming standards to prevent their avocado trees from being affected by pests such as thrips, and moth insects. They are also susceptible to fungal diseases such as anthracnose, root rot, Cercospora, and scab. Anthracnose, Cercospora and Scab can be controlled using copper-based fungicides. Root rot can be prevented by getting high quality, grafted, and treated seedlings.

Demand Continues to Grow

The consumption of avocados locally and international continues to grow every year. Most hotels have avocados in their menus which means that the demand is quite high. To produce quality fruits, it is the high time farmers employ good agricultural practices to ensure that their fruits make a kill both in the local and international markets. Farmers should get the necessary training to produce something that meets international standards. Quality seedlings that are resistant to diseases can be acquired at oxfarm.co.ke. These seedlings also can withstand harsh weather conditions.

 

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Tea Farmers; It’s Time To End The Bonus Slavery

Tea was first introduced in Kenya from India by a colonial settler G.W Caine in 1903. Tea is mainly grown in several districts which include Kericho, Bomet, Nandi, Kiambu, Thika, Maragua, Muranga, Sotik, Kisii, Nyamira, Nyambene, Meru, Nyeri, Kerinyaga, Embu, Kakamega, Nakuru and Trans-nzoia.

 

Bonus pay for 2018 – 2019 tea leaves

 

The decrease in the annual bonus is being attributed to overproduction, socio-economic and political factors in international markets.

Other contributing factors to the decline in tea prices and returns include the levying of VAT on direct sales by local exporters, levying of VAT on buyer inter-trading, lack of adequate consumer-driven research, development and promotional activities.

Turbulence in the international markets such as economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the US and high inflation rates in Egypt also negatively impact tea market.

Why Every Fruit Farmer Should Have a Bee Hive

Last year, the exchange rate dropped 1.6 per cent as the shilling strengthened against the dollar. Tea is traded in the US dollar, which is then converted to Kenyan shilling.

The growers express their displeasure each and every year but no change is effected on the tea bonus but instead it gets lower and lower thus making tea farmers poorer and poorer.

hass avocado

An acre tea farm on average produces 2500kg an year. This translates to a farmer getting 75,000ksh as bonus if the rate is given at 30ksh. Given the workload done to achieve the target of 2500kg is enormous as almost each and every week the farmer needs to pluck the tea leaves. On average a farmer gets 6,250ksh per month if the bonus is to be divided by 12 months. The other monthly payment per kg which the farmer gets paid covers for labour costs plus the inputs costs of fertilizer. Isn’t this slavery really tea farmers and should this be enough reason to embrace change?

Hass avocado is ideally suited for tea growing zones. An acre of Hass can fetch more than a 1,000,000 ksh under good management skills. Hass avocado variety is the most common for exporters as it has a massive market in Europe as compared to other varieties. The best way to eliminate this suffering from our dear farmers is to intercrop the already established tea with Hass avocado and eventually after three years the trees will have taken over the tea plantation.

 

HERE IS THE ESTIMATE RETURN FROM AN ACRE UNDER HASS AVOCADO

The first two years –growth stage
• 2nd year (harvest of 50 fruits per tree) – 60k
• 3rd year (harvest 200-250 fruits) – 240k
• 4th year – (400 fruits) – 480k
• 5th year – (800 fruits)- 900k
• 6th year – (1000 fruits) – 1.08m
• 7th year –(1100 fruits) – 1.3m
• 8th year –(more than 1300 fruits) – 1.5m
• 9th year – (more than 1500 fruits) – 1.8m
• 10th year – (more than 1750 fruits) – 2m

Total cumulative returns Ksh 10 million

 

Average production and prices hass avocado farming.

 

Earn more than 10 million per acre with 40k investment.

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Pest and Diseases Affecting Hass Avocado

The Hass avocado variety is the most popular Kenya Avocado for export because it enjoys a good market in Europe as compared to the other varieties. Hass is originally from Guatemala and one of its most prominent features is that it turns dark purple when ripe.

Basic control measures of keeping your hass avocado free from pest and diseases

  1. Planting the grafted species, (hass variety). Grafting greatly improves plant resistances to diseases.
  2. Weed control. Weeds are harmful in many ways. They harbour insect, pests and diseases:- Weeds either give shelter to various insects, pests and diseases or serve as alternate hosts.
  3. It helps to remove moisture reducing the chance of fungal infections and other air-borne diseases. The moisture is removed as the sun penetration will have increased when the fruit tree is pruned.

Pest affecting Hass avocados tree

Tree borers

They are a group of insects that lay their eggs on or inside of trees, where the young larvae eat their way through tissues.

Tree borer insects cause affected parts of trees to slowly weaken as their chewing severs vital transport tissues. Over time, they may girdle trees or weaken branches to the point that they break under pressure.

Thrips

a thrip on avocado fruit

Thrips cause leathery scars on fruits. Organic mulch is recommended to discourage the survival of these pests. Pyrethrin can be used to eliminate thrips.

Caterpillars

They damage fruit flower and leaves. Check on folded leaves as caterpillars tend to thrive there. They are eliminated by using a natural pesticide like pyrethrin or a systematic insecticide.

Diseases affecting Hass avocado trees

  1. Fungal diseases

Anthracnose

 Causative agent – Colletotrichum or Gloeosporium

Symptoms-Spots form on leaves, beginning as yellow, then brown discolorations that coalesce into large dead areas. Necrosis occurs across or between leaf veins, on leaf margins, and most often at leaf tips. Before harvest, brown to black lesions less than 0.2 inch (5 mm) in diameter develop around lenticels on infected fruit. These small discolorations can be overlooked while fruit are still on the tree, and lesions usually do not enlarge until fruit ripens after harvest. After harvest, lesions become blacker, larger, and increasingly sunken. Lesions eventually spread over the entire fruit surface and throughout pulp.

Remedy– removing all dead fruits, leaves and branches at the end of the year and cleaning up any debris or dropped fruits that might accumulate underneath. Prune your trees so the insides are more open and allow the wind to penetrate, reducing life-giving humidity in the canopy. Spraying the tree with copper fungicide every two weeks after blossom drop will ensure that your fruit is protected throughout its development.

Avocado root rot

Casuative agent– phytophthora cinnamomi.

Symptoms– light green to yellow, undersized foliage on infected plants. Leaves may also have brown, necrotic tips or margins.

Remedy-use certified disease free nursery stock, or use a systemic fungicide

an avocado affected by scab

Scab

Causative agent –sphaceloma perseae

Symptoms – lesions that appear are black and brown and scattered across the fruit skin.

Remedy – application of copper based fungicide when flower buds appear and 3 to 4 weeks later.

  1. Viral diseases

Sun blotch

Symptoms – Yellow, pink, whitish, or red streaks and spotting of the bark and twigs and limbs.

Remedy – no treatment for sun blotch since it arrives with the plant.

  1. Bacterial diseases

Bacterial soft rot

Symptoms – Gray to black, mushy, foul smelling rot on fruit; fruit has darkened metallic sheen.

Remedy – no known treatment. Use certified seedlings while planting seedlings.

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Former Teacher Earning Millions from Hass Avocado Farming in Tetu Nyeri

In this life, one has to plan for his future after retirement. At the outskirts of Nyeri county in Tetu Sub-county, Githakwa Village, you will find One Mr Kabue a former primary school teacher who after retirement decided to venture in Hass avocado farming. Mr Kabue has made life out of avocado farming and we have been following him since engaging us in 2014.

Why Did You Decide On Hass Avocado?

“Unlike old days, farming is different today. most farmers especially in Tetu used to grow tea, coffee and maize, if there was an avocado it would be in a corner somewhere. Nobody cared about it, nobody even remembered it until it matured. It was purely peasant farming with no intention of making money. That avocado probably wasn’t not planted or cared for. However, farming has adopted a different meaning for commercial purposes especially when it comes to Hass avocado farming”, Mr Kabue said.

He further explained that after visiting a few avocado farmers and doing his own research, he decided to try a few trees.

Where Did You Get Your Hass Avocado Seedlings From?

Hass Seedlings at Oxfarm.co.ke demo at Ridgeways Nairobi

Mr Kabue did a thorough analysis of the market and his land and decided to contact hass avocado seedling sellers. He had several options but later decided to buy 200 seedlings from Oxfarm.co.ke in 2014. He says that seedlings from Oxfarm are certified and are the real hass and that they (oxfarm) offers extension services advising farmers on how to do sustainable farming and the best way to go about tree fruit farming. He recalls, our officers going to his farm regularly to monitor the progress. compared to other sellers, Oxfarm will guide you and eventually connect you with the market.

Improving banana farming in Kenya through Value Addition

How Much Do You Get From Your Hass Avocado Trees?

Hass avocado
Mr Kabue’s Hass avocado trees

Mr Kabue says he cannot compare what he is getting now from Hass avocado and previous farming. His returns has increased tremendously and being a member of TEHU (Tetu-Huhoini) avocado farmers group, in 2018, all the members were able to sell their fruits at Ksh 12. Mr Kabue projects that the future of avocado farming in Kenya will rise and the prices can only go higher.

What Would You Tell Farmers?

Farmers should think business when it comes to farming. the traditional way of doing things has been overrun by events.” Why would someone keep on growing coffee hoping for better returns year in  and out?” Mr. Kabue Posed.  Although tea and coffee farming used to be good in their heir days, it has now deteriorated and cartels have taken charge of once central province economic power crops.

Many farmers venture into farming without key information and the project flops in less than an year. To avoid that scenario,  Mr Kabue reads widely on avocado farming like this and visits successful avocado farms. His focus was how to tend to avocado seedlings from day one to maturity, transplanting, monitoring, disease management and marketing matters.

Mr Kabue wants to have more than 600 Hass avocado trees by the end of 2020, a dream he says is achievable and will make him not just a millionaire but a force in matters farming in  his village. Imagine having 600 hass avocado trees where one can give you at least 1000 fruits, that loosely translates to 600,000 fruits. if one fruit can sell at a minimum of Ksh 10, Mr Kabue in just one harvest would have Ksh 6 million. How many kenyans earn that kind of money in an year??