State strikes deal with China and India for avocado market

Avocado farmers taken through a session by an extension agricultural officer at Wambugu Farm in Nyeri county. [Kibata Kihu, Standard] 

Avocado farmers have a reason to smile after the national government successfully negotiated a market for the produce in China and India.

Avocado Society of Kenya (ASK) CEO Mr Muthomi Ernest said the state has struck a deal that will see Kenya supply avocados to the two countries. “Negotiation, now on pen and paper, will see us enter into the two markets with huge populations with a view to boosting our exports,” Mr Muthomi said.

Speaking at a Wambugu farmers’ event, Muthomi said with the new markets, farmers have the potential to earn better returns from avocados if only they can be producing more.

“We are talking of billions of people who will be ready to consume our produce once we start to export in China and India,” the CEO said.

He singled out the Chinese market, saying it has a huge potential for Kenyan avocado because its climatic conditions are not conducive to avocado farming.

“It’s now a question of when to export because the deal has successfully been negotiated. Once the Chinese start consuming avocados, farmers will be smiling all the way to the bank,” Mr Muthoni said.

He said Chinese have travelled all over the world and experienced various cuisines, noting that it is only a matter of time before Kenya exploits the huge business opportunity there.

“I have been to eight countries, where we take our produce, including Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Italy. There is a lot of potential to expand these markets,” Mr Muthomi added.

He said there were more than 100 varieties of avocado, but only four; Fuerte, Hass, Pankay and Jumbo go to international markets.

Kenya, he observed, produces over 240,000 tonnes of avocado, but only 85 tonnes is for export. “We earned over Sh14 billion last year (from avocado exports). There is room for increased production. We are Africa’s leading exporter,” he added.

He said a huge amount of jumbo (indigenous) variety is mostly consumed locally despite a substantial amount being exported to the Middle East. “The rest of Jumbo is being crashed to produce oil. Eight companies are already undertaking this business of crashing avocado,” he said.

Mr Muthomi said prospects, especially for the local avocado markets, were high, with a piece of the same going for Sh20 up from Sh5, before retailing at Sh50 in Nairobi.  

He termed selling immature avocados as a major challenge, as international buyers shun such. “We have paid a high bonus following the selling of mature and quality avocados. Our fruits have penetrated hugely into European markets,” said the CEO.

In 2020, Kenya shipped 70 million kilogrammes of avocado valued at Sh14 billion to the international market.

Murang’a County accounts for 31 per cent of the total local production. In 2016, the county’s farmers earned a gross income of Sh500 million. The county has vowed to take over the business from brokers.

Avocado exports were 85 million kilogrammes (worth Sh14.4 billion) in 2021.

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