Close 1350 avocado farmers from central Kenya, are enjoying steady income from supplying a natural oil extract and export company, OLIVADO with Avocado fruits. 45% of these farmers are women. Olivado buys fruit directly from farmers cutting down the brokers who normally exploit farmers. Avocado acquired from the farmers are processed to make oils by Oliviado in its Muranga Factory which is then exported to 30 countries.
The company was founded in New Zealand and first conducted a pilot project in a temporary facility near Nairobi in 2007, when the supplies in the pacific Island went down. Within a period of six months of starting its operations in Kenya, the company had established more than seven hundred small scale farmers, and had certified them through the organic certifier, IMO. The company is now capable of producing over 900Metric tons of organic extra avocado oil per year.
Oliviado sources its raw materials from farmers who deal with the two varieties that was introduced to the nation in the 1970s by KARI, which is now KALRO.
- HASS – it’s a warty, medium sized, roundish fruit that turns purple at full maturity. It has a tough, pebbly skin, with an impressive shelf life.
- Fuerte, a Mexican-Guatemalan hybrid is a shiny-green, pear-shaped fruit that weighs 250g to 450 g and has high oil content.
It is approximated that four out of five of the trees in Kenya are Fuerte, which was in high demand in the late 1970s and early 1980s when most farmers were establishing their orchards.
But market trends now favor Hass, with horticultural companies like Olivado encouraging farmers to plant Hass or graft Hass scions onto Fuerte rootstocks.
At least 294 farmers have been cleared to sell fresh avocados to the European Union after receiving certification of compliance to production and harvest regulations that have been limiting export. Europe is one of the main horticultural consumers for Kenya, but conditions such as limited chemical use and harvest hygiene have consistently limited farmers from accessing this multi-billion-shilling market. The allowing of the 12 farmers’ linked companies to export comes when the harvest of fuerte and Hass is peaking before slowing down by August. With the closure of the South African export market a few years ago, most farmers, who are not linked to the outside market by other exporters, sell their produce locally. When the local market is saturated, the rest goes to waste since value addition is still limited.
Coupled with the introduction of the controlled atmosphere containers that allow for transportation of the fruits for long distances without depreciating in quality, farmers will export their product to the European market with ease. The Export Promotion Council CEO Peter Biwott said in Thika that the nine companies working with nine farmers’ groups in Murang’a County will have a sure market, and producers will not be in losses any more. The nine companies received an Overall 9 Global Gap Certificates, marking their authorization for the entry into this multi-billion-shilling fresh produce market. He said the inclusion of the farmers raise the export margin by 35 per cent. The farmers’ groups include Rwakama Farmers, Kiawambogo Central, Gachocho Mixed, Ng’araria Avocado Farmers Self-help Group, Gaichanjiru, Mavuno Organics Kenya Limited, Gatuya Avocado Farmers Self-help Group, Marigu and Mofarm Fresh Fruit Exporters.
Kenya’s dried avocado export has been rising, with the country selling 46.7 tons to the international market in 2016. The figure was higher by 7.8 tons than what was exported in 2015. Kenya earned Sh6.5 billion and Sh5.2 billion in 2016 and 2015 respectively, according to the Kenya national bureau of Statistics.
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