It is the world’s largest crop by production quantity. Back after Kenya got independence, in those days, owning a sugar cane plot was a mark of status and a wealth symbol that those who did not have were considered poor and without any future guarantee for wealth.
In an interview with a nation journalist, a farmer had this to say that “Cane for us used to be what cattle is for the Maasai, it did not even matter what was the regular take home for it but when you had it, there was that comfort that you were rich.”
What about today? The sugar industry is in a complete mess. A report by Parliamentary committee on agriculture, livestock and co-operatives found out that the average cost of producing a ton of cane in Kenya amounted to 2300Ksh.
In Kenya an acre produces an average of 25 tons of cane making total production cost at 57,500Ksh. In ten years the cost of production totals 575,000Ksh.
Most millers pay farmers between Sh3, 400 to Sh3, 900 per ton of cane. Calculating that a farmer will be paid 4000Ksh per ton, in ten years the farmer will have got 425,000Ksh in ten years after the deductions of production costs.
Many farmers earn their income only to exhaust it on repayment of debts accrued during the more than 24 months of waiting to harvest the sugarcane.”
Repayment of debts reduces the farmer propensity to buy and/or grow food for their own subsistence, hence the persistent food insecurity and malnutrition.
With signing of the historic African Union free trade agreement, the odds of producing sugarcane in Kenya are simply against the country. There is need to rethink a new path.
Hass avocado farming
Grafted Hass avocados trees take close to three to four years to be ready for fruiting and fruits can be harvested to a period of four months. On average, a single tree can yield to a maximum of 500 fruits in a season. The harvesting season for the Hass avocado is between the months of March to June.
The Hass avocado fruit has a life span of over 50 years.
Here is a brief returns an acre planted Hass avocado can offer;
The first two years –growth stage Hass fruits
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 10 millionKsh
20th year – (3500 fruits) – 4m
Hass fruits have been on an upward trend due to the increase in consumption in European market and the recently opened china market. Both local and foreign investors have been putting up avocado factories in the country and have therefore improved prospects among local farmers.
Each year, more than 1500 avocado containers are shipped to Europe and the Middle East. New markets in Asia- specifically Russia and China are opening up opportunities for farmers and exporters, according to key industry players.
Comparison between Hass Avocado and Sugarcane Farming
In general Hass avocado cannot be and will never be compared to sugarcane as an avocado farmer in ten years will have earned handsomely as compared to peanuts earned by the sugarcane farmer.
To summarize all this, planting 20 Hass trees would earn more than planting an acre of sugarcane. OXFARM believes that farmers should have a reason to smile if they embrace on Hass avocado particularly to farmers in Western and Nyanza region.
For certified Hass seedlings contact 0706 222 888.