Kakuzi PLC has pledged to invest more than Sh400 million to boost avocado production.
Speaking during the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listed firms 93rd Annual General Meeting held virtually, Kakuzi PLC Chairman Nicholas Ng'ang'a said the firm will this year invest more than Sh400 million in capital expenditures (CAPEX) while focusing on upscaling its smallholder operations value to complement its production capacities and boost the global positioning of Kenyan avocados.
"It's critical that the markets only receive good quality fruits from Kenya, and to achieve this, building knowledge of the market requirements amongst farmers is very important," Mr Ng'anga said.
Strategically the company with a 2,500 strong workforce, he said, continues to invest in developing its core crops of avocado, macadamia, forestry and cattle and experimenting with the new blueberry venture.
He added that the firm is also exploring value addition opportunities in a number of these crops and hope that further exciting opportunities to diversify the income stream.
"The markets for Kakuzi's avocados remained solid, despite the almost complete closure of the food retail sector across our main markets. We expect that there will be some recovery in 2021, but this is not guaranteed. To mitigate this, we continue to trade with our traditional buyers as well as some key new players across 14 different countries," Ng'ang'a said.
At the AGM, the firm's shareholders unanimously voted for Sh18 dividends per share, representing a 28.5 per cent growth from the Sh14 dividends paid out the previous year.
"The global market is responding positively to Kenyan avocados due to their high potential to provide good quality fruits but, we must work tirelessly to secure this market," Ng'ang'a said.
The company he added has secured lucrative markets for Kenyan agriproducts such as avocados and macadamia and will continue adopting a shared prosperity approach by integrating smallholders.
The company has also thrived despite the ravaging effects of the pandemic on the economy.
"I am pleased to report that the pandemic did not force us to lay off any staff member. Infact our employee numbers increased, and we managed to honour our Collective Bargaining Agreement commitment with the Kenya Plantations and Agricultural Union to further increase wages," he said.
Three UK-based supermarket chains, last year suspended the purchase of avocados from the Murang’a agribusiness firm following human rights abuse claims by 85 individuals.
Kakuzi PLC is now focusing on agricultural production expansion and diversification projects for its macadamia, blueberry, livestock and commercial forestry business lines.