The avocado (persea Americana) is believed to have originated in south-central Mexico between 7000-5000 Bc, it’s a member of the flowering plant family lauraceae. Avocado fruit is a large berry containing a single large seed, the trees are partially self- pollinating and are often propagated through grafting to ensure fruit quality and quantity.
Avocados are cultivated in tropical, subtropical and Mediterranean climates of many countries, with Mexico being the leading producer of avocados, supplying 32% of the world total. Evidence suggests that there are three separate domesticated avocado landraces in the world.
West Indian landrace
The Mexican and Guatemalan landraces originated in the highlands of those countries, west Indian landrace on the other hand, is a lowland variety that ranges from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador to Peru.
In Kenya, avocado is an important commercial fruit for both local and export markets. The fruit is high nutritious, rich in proteins and cholesterol free. It’s a source of minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. It is also rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and D.
1.2 Varieties of avocado grown in Kenya
Over 40 varieties of avocadoes are grown in Kenya, with HASS and FUERTE varieties being popular. Hass is the main export variety and Fuertes is preferred for processing. Other commercial varieties are Pinkerton, reed, Puebla, endranol, Gwen, wurtz, nabal, hazard, sharwil and Shepard
Hass is the most popular variety in the world. The mother tree of all Hass avocados was born in a backyard in La Habra Heights, California in 1920s, and later patented by Rudolph Hass in 1935.
Hass avocado trees are upright with high vigour, meaning they grow tall and require cutting back. Hass are predominantly Guatemalan and flowers are type A.
Leaves do not produce aniseed smell when crushed; neither do new shoots produce red flecking on wood.
Fruits are oval in shape with small to medium seed.
Fruit skin turn from green to purplish-black when mature and black when ripe.
Skin thickness is medium and easy peeling
Fruit surface is pebbly and fruit has a great taste
Hass has a flesh recovery of 70%
Mature fruits weigh between 180-350g
Maturity is mid-season to late season
Hass fruit got an outstanding shelf-life and good shipping characteristics
It has one of the longest harvesting seasons
Fuertes is among the major varieties in export market.
The tree is broad and can grow very high, Fuertes are predominantly Mexican and flowers are type B.
Leaves produce strong aniseed smell when crushed, and red flecking wood of new shoots.
Fuertes is very productive, with pear shaped fruits with noticeable flat area on bottom corner.
Fruit has a smooth thin green skin which remains green when fruits are mature and ripe.
Creamy, pale green flesh, with flesh recovery of 77%
Fruit weight 140-425g
Fuertes mature early
Pinkertons are semi-dwarf tree with medium height and are predominantly Guatemalan with flower type A.
Leaves do not produce aniseed smell when crushed, neither do new shoots produce red flecking on wood.
Fruits are long, pear-shaped with small seed. Under cool conditions, the fruit can develop long neck.
Fruit are large and can weigh 225-510g
Fruit skin is of medium thickness, green with slight pebbling and excellent peeling
Skin colour is green which deepens as the fruit ripens
Creamy, pale green flesh with flesh recovery of 82%
Maturity is mid-season
Reed trees are semi-weeping column shape of medium shape; it belongs to Guatemalan race and has flower type A.
Leaves do not produce aniseed smell when crushed; neither do new shoots produce red flecking on wood.
Reed is a round fruit with medium seed
Skin colour is green even after the fruit is mature and ripe
Skin is of medium-thickness and of easy peeling
Fruit is medium to large size with weight of 225-510g
Creamy flesh with good taste and flesh recovery of 72%
It matures very late
Edranol trees are compact, medium size, Guatemalan race with flower type B.
Leaves are dark green in color and do not produce aniseed smell when crushed, neither do new shoots produce red flecking on wood.
Today, organic foods are appealing to consumers since they are an ethical choice and healthy. Therefore, organic farming can be a profitable sphere to venture in. Apart from ethics and money. Organic farming practices are friendly to the environment. Organic farming can be considered as a farming method that avoids the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, additives, growth regulators and growth hormones. They rely on animal manures, bio-fertilizers, crop residues, crop rotation, organic wastes, and mechanical cultivation. Biological methods are used for pest and weeds control while still maintaining soil productivity. Organic farming helps in enhancing biological diversity, soil fertility and this way resulting in sustainability in agriculture.
To maintain soil fertility, crops should be supplied with nutrients using insoluble nutrients like the action of micro-organisms. Legumes can be grown to ensure nitrogen soil self-sufficiency since they facilitate to nitrogen fixation.
Pros of Organic Farming
In fruit farming, organic farming has many benefits such as reducing chemical residual levels and minimizing soil erosion. China giving a nod to Kenyan avocados, that was a big opportunity for Kenyan farmers. However, the export license can end up being canceled if high pesticide levels and the use of unregistered pesticides are detected. Apart from discouraging smart farming practices like crop rotation and growing cover crops, pesticides and synthetic chemicals result in soil, air and water contamination. Continuous use of pesticides allows disease resistance to develop in weeds, plants, bacteria, fungi, and plant-eating-insects.
Soil erosion is a serious issue that should be combated since it affects the land, humans and can greatly cut the fruit supply, especially when the trees are destroyed.
When you treat the soil with harmful pesticides, you destroy it to the point that the soil can no longer thrive on its own. Growing healthy fruits starts with healthy soil. Organic farming means that you will produce healthy fruits.
Organic farming facilitates water conservation and preservation. Some fruit trees such as peaches, pears cannot tolerate drought and hence require a lot of irrigation. Apples require a lot of water during vegetative growth and fruit formation. Most fruits are resistant to rotting hence they can withstand wet soils. Most mature fruits are composed of approximately 70% water. This means that plants require a lot of water during fruit formation. On most occasions, 1% of the water that the trees use is retained in the fruits. Continuous use of fertilizers reduces water retention capability results in poor drainage of the soil. This leads to a lot of irrigation, affected water conservation negatively. When farmers employ organic practices such as mulching, they manage to minimize irrigation and hence conserve water.
Consumers prefer organically grown fruits not only in Kenya but also in other countries since they are tastier. The quality of the fruits is also different. Organically grown fruits are free from preservatives, harmful chemicals, and artificial flavors. Furthermore, the cost of organic fruit farming is relatively lower compared to non-organically grown ones.
The organic farming industry faces several challenges. For instance, farmers are not aware of the high demand for organic fruits and their market. Also, there is a lack of enforcement o organic farming, lack of certification by agricultural bodies and lack of proper inspection of fruit quality. The inappropriate use of chemical and high maximum residual levels (MRLs) in the horticultural sector, for example, resulted in the European Union rejecting Kenya’s horticulture produce. This shows the importance of setting standards and certification of organic farming.
The demand for organically produced fruits has been rising not only locally but also in the export market. Some farmers are already amassing high incomes from organic fruits. Unfortunately, the number of organic farmers is still low and hence the demand is yet to be met. In Kenya, there are some supermarkets in Nairobi and other parts of the country which are stocking their shelves with organic foods. Apart from low chemical levels, organic fruits have health benefits to those suffering from serious diseases such as high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes.
If other farmers are amassing wealth from organic farming, why not you? For more information, you can consult Oxfarm.co.ke to get into the organic 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
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.
Hass Avocado Is The Canopy Of Life: A Testimony Of TEHU Self Help Group
They say when people come together they can conquer the world and there is power in numbers. Mr. Paul Muthami Tumuti a writer and a farmer who is the chairman of TEHU self-help group had a vision for the group and the entire Kenya. According to Mr. Muthami “Avocado is the canopy of life”, this is what we are going to show you in this article.
Mr. Muthami who is an alumni of Kimathi Institute which has now changed to Dedan Kimathi University of Technology studied building but decided to do farming as a part timer.
Every day is a learning day and life is an experience. Few farmers had Hass avocado trees in TETU and market was a challenge. Brokers and Cartels always come in sheep skin but inside they are leopards. They will tell farmers how the market has shifted and they should sell their produce to them since they are connected and have ready market.
In 2016, with just 22 members, TEHU (Tetu and Huhoini) Fruits and Vegetables self-help group was formed and registered with assistance of agricultural department. The main purpose of forming the group was most farmers had few mature trees and the only way of having a bargaining power was to be in a group. TEHU was registered from members of several sub-locations that are karaihu, Kigogoini, Gatumbiro, Kiriti, e.t.c.
In 2016, the group sold 52,000 pieces of hass avocado from various farmers to one of the biggest exporters in Kenya. Their anticipation was 10 Ksh per fruit but they only managed to sell at 5.19 Ksh per fruit. They were very demoralized and almost gave up. However, they knew there was hope because previously their fruits were being bought for less than Ksh 2-4.
In 2017 more members joined and they had 17 new members making a total of 35 members. According to the chairman, they were frustrated by the strict conditions given by the exporter and they decided to sell at the farm gate. This time they managed to get a supplier. They sold a total of 78,000 hass avocados fruits at 8.50 Ksh. This was more of a break through. The farmers were excited since they were paid promptly and at the farm gate.
In 2018, the group was becoming bigger, from 35 members to 110. This time the group expanded from Tetu and Huhoini to other areas such as Thegenge, Nyeri Municipality, Mweiga, and Giakanja.e.t.c. The dream was coming to a reality and now the target was an exporter. So the group management together with members called a meeting to deliberate on the terms to be given to the buyers of the fruits.
Avocado Training in Meru, OxfarmAg educating farmers group
Terms to the buyer
They should verify the quality and quantity of the fruits
They should negotiate and agree on the best price.
Exporter/interested party have to deposit a good sum of money in TEHU’s bank account as a down payment.
Supervision both from the exporter and TEHU has to be present during harvesting.
In 2018 the group received more than 10 interested parties who wanted to buy the fruits from members. Each buyer was to come up with best price they can buy the fruits and also best terms. The management tasked by the group was meant to select the best of the parties,
The group members sold the fruits to one of the exporting companies at Ksh 12 per fruits gate price.
In 2019, Things were bigger and better, the members rose from 110 to 300 of which 150 members had mature fruits for sale. This time members came all the way from marwa, and Othaya. After doing the vetting of various interested parties, one exporter who won to buy the fruits bought 450,000 pieces of hass avocado at Ksh 16 and 200,000 Fuertes avocados at Ksh 6- Ksh 8. While the members were selling at Ksh 16, the non-members were selling theirs at Ksh 8. That is 100% difference; do you now believe there is power in numbers?
TEHU has created for the local young people who during harvesting are highly engaged. Its only in 2016 they had professional pickers but there after the group decided to engage the local young people.
Some conditions for Becoming a Member of the group.
TEHU doesn’t discriminate any farmer, whether you are a farmer with a single tree or a farmer like Mr. Kabue from Githakwa with 300 trees. So what do you need to become a member?
Registration and membership fee of Ksh 1000
Fruit should be grown organically, (no synthetic fertilizers). Most exporters want organic products. ( Use traps instead of chemicals to control pests)
Members should undergo trainings
Members should wait for the fruits to mature fully and wait for TEHU management to give out directives
The group management meets at least once in a month to deliberate on issues affecting the group or emerging news. On the other hand, members meet at least twice a year.
Benefits of being in the group to the farmer
After having an interview with TEHU self help group chairman Mr. Muthami, we visited a member of Tehu, Mr Kabui, a farmer of Hass avocado who hass 300 trees and here is a summary of the advantages associated with joining TEHU.
Group creates social relations that enable individuals to achieve goals that they may not otherwise be able to achieve by themselves.
Enable farmers to improve on fruits quality due to trainings.
Help farmers benefit from economies of scale by lowering their costs of acquiring inputs or hiring services such as pickers and transport.
It also empowers their members economically and socially by involving them in decision-making processes that create additional rural employment opportunities, or enable them to become more resilient to economic and environmental shocks.
They have an easy reach to resources as group members can apply for loans on bank they operate on due to the security they have on the fruits.
They have an easy reach to donors such as DANIDA as it has offered to construct a cold room for the group.
They attract good hass Avocado prices as they have quantities that can interest exporters thus eliminating the broker and having a direct exporter of their produce.
How Is the Avocado Market?
According to Mr. Muthami, even if we uprooted all the other trees in Kenya and plant avocados, we wouldn’t meet the global demand of avocado. Currently avocado fruit is the most sort after because of its healthy benefits. Mexico produces more than 40% of the total global production of hass avocado. Combined with other Latin American nations they produce more than 80%.
Their avocado fruits hit the market between March and June. This is a great advantage to Kenya and other tropical countries in Africa since our avocados and especially the highlands mature at around June-September. ” If only we farmers can be patient enough and sell in August…” poses Mr. Muthami. By around that time, there are few fruits in Europe and Middle East which means, by the law of demand and supply, assuming the demand is constant, the price will definitely go higher.
“The consumer wants the product but most don’t have the conditions to grow them. Avocado oil is very expensive and it’s very hard to find it in local market. For economic returns and food security the farmers have to be into groups. Most farmers are frustrated by market when they do it individually. The more you narrow the chain of brokers the more you earn. Use good agricultural practices and channel your energy in good use” Added Mr. Muthami.
What Ministry Of Trade Should Know
County governments and national government can play a vital role in ensuring youths and farmers form groups that can help them market their produce be it fruits or veggies. Nyeri alone produces more than 10 million hass avocado but are disorganized and sell to brokers at less than Ksh 8.
Imagine, TEHU due to their bargaining power sold their fruits at Ksh 16, while most individual farmers at Ksh 8. This means more revenue is lost in Nyeri county alone. Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya in terms of GDP. It then means that if the relevant parties can come together and ensure farmers are organized, they can offer employment.
There are many beneficiaries;
County and national governments
Employment to the local young people
TEHU testimony should be used as an inspiration to many young people.
Where is the Future of Young People in farming?
Young people can form groups and grow crops together. Quantity is the biggest challenge, but if young people have good will, have trusts among them they can do wonders.
The world we are living in has many challenges, after completing education, most youths end up in towns, tarmacking looking for white color jobs but the money is with masses and coming together. We keep on complaining how there no jobs in Kenya, the time is now, and we must come together and fight together.
Writers’ Point of view
TEHU coming together is a success story that ought to reach the entire world. Its part of a comprehensive and sustainable plan advocating the long term vision of the hass avocado farmers. It will benefit farmers and the entire village’s community since it advocates better farming practices at a minimized cost and will thus increase the avocado production leading to more profits for farmers.
I trust that this article would inspire many more hass avocado farmers and help them in creating both employment revenue for themselves. I also take this opportunity to congratulate all the TEHU members who have been working tirelessly for achieving their objective. You are True Heroes!
As OxfarmAg Ltd company we are involved in training and organization of farmers groups interested on avocado farming.
If you would like to book us email us firstname.lastname@example.org
Agriculture as we all know is the backbone of Kenyan Economy. Kenya has a population of about 50 million where according to 2009 census 80% are farmers. However, in the recent years, rural-urban migration has been very high where young people move to cities in such of better opportunities. This has left a gap in agriculture. Oxfarm Ag Ltd has identified several trends that will shape agribusiness not just in Kenya but worldwide.
Attracting Young People Into agribusiness
One of the biggest factors that will determine how well agribusiness industry will cope with and adopt the newest Ag-Tech applications related to food production, will be young farmers. The industry is facing a problem with ensuring effective food production due to the fact, that most farms are run by older demographics that can range from 40 years old and above. If this persists happening and if we will not be able to figure out methods of raising the interest of farming and agriculture to young people, the pace at which new technology will be adopted will be hindered, as well as the progress of finding new solutions to current problems in the industry will be slowed down tremendously as well.
Given the recent drought conditions which cost Kenyan farmers billions of shillings in losses, there’s a lot of investment in the development of advanced drip irrigation technology, which allows farmers to limit wastage by efficiently delivering the exact amount of water to the soil, needed by their crops to grow.
In order to improve operational efficiency and yield prediction, the agricultural industry is increasingly using data analytics. Farmers are now able to implement complex systems that assist them with equipment management. This is also combined with data on weather patterns and soil conditions as well as crops to be planted, to develop a formula to determine the best time and place to plant and harvest. Big data is also useful for forecasting demand for crops, yield on crops, as well as potential land size and usage of land.
This modern form of farming, used to produce food in a smaller controlled environment through vertically stacked layers to save on water and fertilizer, is no longer just a noisy word, but a reality. A number of farmers in Kenya are already successfully using this technology as part of their farming practices.
Mobile applications (apps)
Smart phones are no longer just used for multimedia purposes and accessing information through the internet. Farmers are now actively using apps to monitor their crops via GPS, calculate feed, save water, get access to networks and markets, etc. Mobile apps have become a major disruptor in the agricultural industry. Developers globally are working around the clock to introduce app innovations that were once unimaginable.
The introduction of new technologies and the potential they can provide to farmers across the globe (e.g. using Biotech to alter crop health, utilizing Digital Twin to predict optimal weather conditions for crop growth etc.) will become dependent on our ability to introduce younger generations to start a career in farming and agribusiness. In order to achieve this, we need to put the focus on financing and funding the younger generation in terms of financially encouraging them to start their own sustainable farming businesses and help them get a meaningful start that will contribute to efficient future food production.
If you can remember about last long-rain season of 2018 most farmers were caught unaware since the long rains started a bit earlier than expected. A delay in planting can lead to many inconveniences leading to huge losses.
Timely planting as we call it means that you need to have everything prepared for the long rains before it starts. Planning and preparing early will help you avoid costly mistakes.
If you are planning to invest in hass avocado we got you covered by assisting you plan. Taking into consideration this is a long-term investment you are required to put several issues in your list.
First, you need to conduct a soil analysis to know how healthy your soil is. Soil is one of the factors a farmer can control and get better yields. The analysis will determine the soil PH, nutrients available (both micro and macro), soil organic matter as well as cation exchange capacity. Soil analysis is done during dry season so that the control measure is done early enough. OxfarmAg Ltd will help you get through with this process especially before this coming season. We normally visit your farm pick samples for analysis and advice you recommendation to take. Most of the farms that we have visited in Central and Rift valley region require addition lime to reduce acidity.
The second benefit of preparing your farm early is ploughing and digging of holes for planting which should be done early to allow more time for other consecutive work to be timely done. With OxfarmAg Limited as your partner, we will help you achieve this. Our team is able to assist in digging holes with the recommended sizes as well as ensuring proper spacing for hass avocado farming. We do this putting into consideration the direction of the sun (North-South Orientation).
During land and holes preparation we also assist in mixing of the top soil with manure in a proper proportion to avoid damage of roots after planting.
Nowadays emergence of small nurseries is everywhere and most of these operators don’t meet requirements for operating a nursery. Most of them have hass seedlings that are not certified by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service – KEPHIS and registered by Horticultural Crop Directorate – HCD. A genuine nursery should operate with both certificates. Buying the seedlings from these nurseries which at times might be cheaper can save you a few coins for now but will result in huge losses and regret in say 3-5 years from now. Consideration should be emphasized from the rootstock selection, scion from true to type hass avocado variety and propagation method have to be adhered to standard set.
At OxfarmAg limited we propagate and we ensures that you get certified quality true to type hass avocado plants.
We carry out planting during the rainy season or with irrigation water. This is the most sensitive part of any hass avocado farming enterprise. Planting determines about 30% success your enterprise. Proper planting will avoid first drying of your seedlings, second root rot diseases and third fast maturity of the plants where a farmer start harvesting within the first 2-3 years.
Engage OxfarmAg Ltd we will plant your seedlings professionally and never regret.
Hass avocado abort heavenly for several reasons; nutrients available for the plants, pests and diseases, weather patterns and also pollination plays a big role.
During planting we ensure we follow a guideline where we inter-crop with some Fuertes to boost on cross pollination. This ensures more fruits in your trees, better fruit development and also larger sizes of fruits.
Pests and Disease control
Most avocado farmers are not concerned about pests and diseases which also play a big role to the productivity of the trees. Farmers are used to grow the traditional (Kienyeji) avocados without much care. For better production of hass avocados, quality maintenance and export requirement, ensure you get advice from OxfarmAg Ltd.
Irrigation, Pruning and Harvesting
When considering best ways to manage your farm, the above practices are crucial. When we walk with you this journey, we will help you and teach you how to go about all the above processes.
OxfarmAg Ltd together with other exporting companies and local processors have partnered to ensure all the fruits you get from your farm get the best market prices. We grade your fruits for exports and for local oil extraction processing.
OxfarmAg Ltd Contract with Farmers
We have planting services for our farmers which involve signing a contract between the company OxfarmAg Ltd and the Farmer for 3-4 months depending on how long the process will take from farm preparation to planting of seedlings.
Our packages per acre include: soil analysis, planning, measurement and digging of holes, delivery of 150 seedlings to the farm, planting and monitoring for 3 months. All these services you get at a cost of Ksh 40,000 per acre.
Farmer should ensure the farm is cleared, provide manure and other management practices like irrigation, removal of suckers, and security of seedlings e.t.c. We do this in most parts of Kenya all you need to do is to call us get to know if hass avocado can do well and if they can do, you invite us for farm visit and advice.
Email; email@example.com and request for quotation and sample contract.
From the first engagement we become your lifetime partners in farming by offering agronomy advice and discounts. Our added advantage is that we can assist in giving you options of some other crops that you can intercrop with hass and get to recover your initial investment soonest.
We are an online agricultural information portal providing solutions to pressing issues affecting farmers in Kenya, like access to information, research and technology in farming, market trends and connecting farmers with potential market/buyers. We are registered under Kenya company act by the name OxfarmAg Ltd. We are certified to provide agricultural inputs mostly seedlings of high quality. We have qualified agriculturists in most part of Kenya who are involved in management of various agricultural projects. We believe nowadays Money grows on trees.