Export venture from 2 avocado seedlings
William Beliot has been engaging himself in avocado farming for the past 16 years. He started small with only two seedlings he bought at Sh10 each now he owns an orchard.
However, his agribusiness has grown so big that he now sells the produce through a cooperative society that exports the produce. Today, the farmer earns a whooping Sh300,000 per season.
“I’ve been farming avocados for several years, though I also have dairy cows and grow crops like maize,’’ says Beliot, who carries out this kind of farming in Chemaner, Bomet County.
He adds: “I bought the initial seedlings at Sh10 in Gatundu during a visit to a friend and planted on my farm. They did very well and my family consumed the fruits. This encouraged me to grow seven more trees,’’ he says.
The nine trees of the Fuerte variety produced several fruits that the farmer sold in local market. However, it was not until 2011, when he realized such a huge potential of the fruits that he decided to expand the orchard.
“I bought 300 grafted Hass avocado seedlings from a nursery supported by World Wide Fund (WWF) at Mulot trading centre, on the border of Bomet and Narok counties,’’ he says, adding that he spent Sh75,000.
The trees currently produce 400 fruits per season, which are harvested twice a year; March and April, and November and December.
“From the Hass variety of fruits, my first earnings were Sh13,000 in 2013. Then they rose to Sh56,000 in the second harvest and 160,000 in the first harvest of the second year. Currently, I earn double the amount per season from the mature trees,’’ reveals Beliot.
The farmer sells the produce through Isei Cooperative Society, that exports abroad. Avocados mature in two years and with improved crop husbandry, one can harvest up to 350 kilos of the fruits per tree per year. For better results, the farmer plants seedlings at a spacing of 30 by 33 feet.
“I’ve learnt how to grow the trees for export market and one of the things one has to do is not to spray with chemicals,’’ he says.
The farmer uses organic manure; a mixture of cow dung, goat, sheep and chicken droppings to plant the seedlings. Through the cooperative, Beliot, with other farmers in the region, have been able to overcome brokers.
“Some brokers offer Sh5 per fruit, yet at the cooperative, we sell a kilo at Sh48 when it’s collected from the farm by the society,’’ he reveals, adding that his family provides labour, mostly during harvesting seasons.
From the proceeds, the farmer has been able to educate his children and has built himself a decent house. Apart from avocados, the farmer also grows bananas, bamboo, Prunus africana, grevillea, cypress and tea. Besides, he keeps dairy cattle, goats and Kienyeji chickens.
Bernard Mutai, an agronomist in Bomet County, says that an avocado tree attains its full potential in 5 years, and farmers are encouraged to intercrop it with onions, beans or any other food crop.