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Taste for Kenya’s avocado grows

The Hass and Fuerte varieties of avocado are exported to Europe, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

About two decades ago, avocado didn’t carry as much value as it does today.

Last year, an indefinite ban was placed by the horticulture regulator on the export of two varieties of avocado; Hass and Fuerte.

The ban is a result of the continued exportation of immature crops to overseas markets. Avocado Society of Kenya executive officer Ernest Muthomi explained that the rise in the prices of avocado is because of increased demand and knowledge of the fruit.

“People are aware of the nutritional benefit of avocado. Also, we have local investors who have invested in processing avocado. Locally, we use the Jumbo variety for consumption, but it can also be used to make avocado oil,” said Mr Muthomi.

He said Kenya is ranked the seventh biggest exporter of avocado in the world, and number one in Africa after overtaking South Africa in 2017.

However, Kenya’s market share globally is only about three per cent. 

The Hass and Fuerte varieties of avocado are exported to Europe, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Muthomi said the current high demand had led to the export of premature fruits, leading to the ban. "People are asking for anything that looks like an avocado. The ban is meant to protect Kenya's reputation in the export market,” he said.

"Exports carry the Kenyan identity, and a good reputation is key in getting a better price for our produce."

He urged farmers to sell their produce through the lobby to avoid being exploited by brokers.