In Kenya, Hass avocado farming is considered one of the most lucrative businesses in both the small and large scale sectors. Pioneers of has avocado farming have had a long history behind the growth and development of this business. Today, most households have a budget set for avocado purchases on a daily basis.
Kenya produces a rough estimate of 115,000 metric tonnes of avocados per year. Small scale farmers contribute to 70 percent of this production. This makes Kenya stand as the second-largest exporter of avocados after South Africa and the World’s third-largest after Chile. Statistics show that Kenya exports only 10% of its production, while Chile exports 55% and South Africa exports 60%.
The Hass variety has a huge demand in the international markets of countries such as the UAE, Russia, the UK, and Spain. This contributes to over 70 percent of the global market share.
Avocados do well in regions that have 1500 to 2100m above sea level which include Nyeri, Kiamu, Kisii, and Murang’a.
Kenya has over 40 varieties of avocados but the Hass avocado variety is the main export. Hass avocado is preferred due to its high-fat content as compared to other varieties.
Below is the Procedure for Hass Avocado Farming and Sale.
Grafting is the main method of grafting which is carried out when seedlings reach a pencil size thickness. In Kenya, the wedge grafting method is very successful.
Land preparation is made easier through the preparation of planting holes and the general spacing of pure stands of avocadoes. The holes are filled with topsoil which is mixed with manure and DAP. This mixture improves the nutrient uptake of the young avocadoes. Unless the soil is wet enough, water the holes always. After that, the farmer has to plant the grafts in the holes as they were in the nursery, shade the young plants and if the plants are in a windy area, install a windbreaker to prevent the plants from leaning to one side and also prevent leaf shedding and bruising.
The section that surrounds the avocado tree should be made clean as much as possible by the weeding and elimination of fallen avocados. Weeds put competition into the growth and development of avocados as they compete for water and nutrients. Weeds also bring around pests and diseases.
Pest and Disease Management.
Avocadoes are attacked by various fruit flies. The flies lay eggs under the fruit’s skin while others attack the young and mature fruits. The farmer has to be equipped with pesticides to avoid the inherence of the pests.
The diseases attack trees of any size. Avocado leaves turn small, pale, or yellow-green. The leaves also wither and eventually fall to the ground and as a result, the infected tree dies prematurely. The farmer has to drench the soil with the right treatment, so as to prevent the harsh effects of diseases.
Hass Avocado Harvesting.
Immediately after 5-10 months of flowering, avocadoes are ready for harvesting. Harvesting is done depending on the region’s ecological conditions and the variety. Avocados do not ripen when they are attached to the tree. But when the avocados remain on the tree for too long, they may be blown down by wind and once they fall, they become broken and bruised.
Once picked when fully grown, the avocados ripen in a period of 4-5 weeks when kept at room temperature. The farmer has to handle the avocados wlith care especially during packaging and transportation.
In Kenya, the export sector is dominated by five major exports who are; Kakuzi, Vegpro, Sunripe, Kenya Horticultural Exporters, and East African Growers. The companies generate their avocados from small scale farmers, hence making the business generate income for the Kenyan farmers.