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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.