Labeled the green revolution, avocado farming has seen Kenya’s farmers abandon their traditional crops in favour of avocado fruit. No surprise, the demand for avocados has increased in recent years due to its supposed numerous health benefits.
Growing avocados in Kenya is very viable due to the country’s fertile soil and temperate climate needed for the plant to thrive. These factors has seen the country become the one of the top ten largest avocado producers in the world.
CNN International’s Marketplace Africa programme recently met Jackson Mwangi, a Kenyan smallholder avocado farmer, who talked about his decision to abandon traditional crops in favour of avocados, “From avocado I do get a lot of money, with the maize and beans, there was nothing. Last year, I had cut mango trees, they were all ready to be harvested but there was nobody to buy them. So, I decided to cut them down and plant avocado instead of mango tree.”
Mwangi was supported in his new venture by Kakuzi, a Kenyan-based farming company working closely with small farmers on agricultural cultivation. “We have approximately 700 hectares of irrigated avocados on our own estates, and we support about 2000 smallholder farmers,” Chris Flowers, the managing director of Kakuzi PLC, tells the programme about his company’s support of small farmers,
Kenya is proving ripe for avocado farming because along with its climate and soil, it is in a great position to export the fruit when other countries are unable to. Flowers explains, “Kenya currently falls in very much towards the back end of the South African season. And depending where we develop avocados in the future, that window may get extended into the winter period, that extension of your market window so you’re supplying fruit into the Septembers and the Octobers into North Europe is quite important.”
Another key market opening up is China which recently signed a deal with Kenya to export avocados. Flowers speaks about how great this opportunity could be for Kenyan farmers, “I think there’s a long way to go, but the sheer size of China means that if avocados become part and parcel of the Chinese shopping basket, it is a great opportunity for Kenya.”
These opportunities are transforming farming in Kenya, and with support from companies like Kakuzi, small farmers are able to make big profits. Mwangi describes how avocado farming has helped him and how he is encouraging more farmers to follow his example, “From avocado, I have earned a lot of money, whereby I have bought a car for myself. I have introduced so many farmers from my area and they have started planting avocados here and there.”
The “green revolution” is changing the face of Kenyan farming and is proving profitable for many small farmers as well as the companies helping them in their endeavors
Culled from Africa Business Communities