More growers see the gold in avocado farming

Stephen Njiru an avocado farmer in Manyatta Subcounty, Embu County at his avocado farm. [Muriithi Mugo, Standard]

More farmers have embraced Hass avocado farming in Kirinyaga.

Farmers from Kinyaga village in Mutithi ward have opted to grow the fruit to meet the growing demand in the international market.

BigFarm, an agricultural company that deals in seedlings and buys fruits conducted training for farmers on the best practices to grow the crops for export.

BigFarm manager Bernard Karanja said Hass avocado is on high demand internationally yet supply is low.

He said the international market is keen on quality fruit.

To meet the high international standards, Karanja said the company had taken the initiative to inform farmers on how to control diseases using safe methods.

He also pointed out that demand for high quality avocado is high with companies using it to make natural body lotions and other beauty products.

"Many companies in the world have turned to using organic products for making beauty products thus raising the demand for Hass avocado due to its fat content," he said.

Moses Maina, an avocado farmer, urged the county government to have a seedling bank where farmers can access the avocados easily. Currently farmers source seedlings from Ruiru in Kiambu.

He also added that the major challenge is access to seedlings, water for irrigation, affordable fertiliser and extension services.

"In our area, we do not have piped water and we are urging the county government to provide water and extension services so that we can provide high yielding fruits that will attract good money in the international market," he said.

The county's current annual avocado production is estimated at 15,000 metric tonnes worth around Sh300 million.

With the government's interventions, the production is expected to go up to 21,000 metric tonnes which will be fetching the farmers around Sh700 million.

By integrating avocados in tea and coffee farming, farmers have now added value to their farms and an extra income stream.

Experts have noted that one tree can give up to Sh20,000 and so a farmer with several trees among the tea bushes reaps more from avocados than from tea.

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