Over the past six years, Kenya’s ambition to become a global leader in high-quality avocado production and export has gained significant momentum, thanks to the Kenya Crops and Dairy Markets Systems (KCDMS) program.

Hass avocado seedlings at Farmers Trend nurseries 0724559286
Hass avocado seedlings at Farmers Trend nurseries 0724559286

The initiative, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has provided support to avocado farmers in 12 different counties.

The six-year program, centered on the principles of enhancing competitiveness, inclusivity, and resilience in the avocado sector, has made substantial progress toward realizing this national vision.

As KCDMS takes pride in contributing to Kenya’s remarkable growth in avocado exports, farmers actively involved in avocado production have expressed their appreciation for KCDMS’s substantial role in their success.

During interviews with Capital News, a section of farmers drawn from the Nyanza and Western regions of the country lauded KCDMS for strengthening value chain connections, enhancing capacity and skills, improving financial access and input availability, and fostering a conducive environment, among other achievements.

KCDMS Sh30mn investment in Tranz Nzoia

Damaris Omuka, the Farm Manager at KTL Farming Limited, an avocado producer and exporter in Tranz Nzoia, acknowledged the pivotal role played by KCDMS in the company’s success, particularly in the significant improvement of their yields (seedlings) and the doubling of their profit margins.

John Ndegwa, a farmer in Bungoma and Chair of the Bungoma Avocado Farmers Association
John Ndegwa, a farmer in Bungoma and Chair of the Bungoma Avocado Farmers Association

Established in 2014, KTL Farming Limited offers farmers avocado seedlings and extension services, subsequently purchasing their produce for export. The company collaborates with more than 4,000 farmers across Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Nakuru, and Kakamega Counties.

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With a substantial Sh30 million investment from KCDMS, Omuka noted that the company’s vision to support farmers and advance the avocado industry in the country is progressively becoming a reality.

“After KCDMS came to the ground we have witnessed improved fortunes both on our side as a company and to our farmers who engage with us,” Omuka said.

According to Omuka, the financial support from KCDMS significantly contributed to the establishment of a state-of-the-art media center.

The facility plays a crucial role in various aspects, including the meticulous sterilization of avocado seedlings, ensuring that the seeds are not only clean for the farmers but also free from diseases.

With this assurance, Omuka emphasized that farmers have confidence that the seedlings are true to type, guaranteeing them the prospect of harvesting genuine Hass avocados that are required in the market.

“Before KCDMS, we used to spend so much money in testing the soil in order to safeguard the integrity of our seedlings. With the media center, our work has been made easier besides reducing our costs,” she said.

Omuka stressed that KCDMS financial assistance has played a crucial role in enabling farmers to acquire top-tier avocado seedlings while also ensuring a competitive market for their produce.

KCDMS in Bungoma

The situation in Bugoma resembled a familiar scenario for the avocado farmers, even though KCDMS’s involvement was limited to just one year.

John Ndegwa, representing the Bungoma Avocado Farmers Association (BAFA) as its Chair, revealed that KCDMS’s support had a significant impact on enhancing avocado farming in the area.

This he said, was evident in the increased production of export-worthy avocados in the region.

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Ndegwa disclosed that in 2023, farmers from the nine sub-counties in the region collectively harvested 2,000 kilograms and are optimistic about achieving even more substantial and improved yields in 2024.

” We have had a good relationship with KCDMS and we want them to come back. We have been with them for less than a year but we have felt their impact during this short period,” he said.

BAFA plays a crucial role in advancing avocado production within Bungoma County. The association has contributed to elevating the earnings of avocado farmers and generating employment opportunities within the county.

Furthermore, BAFA has actively worked to enhance the quality of avocados cultivated in the region, thereby enhancing their competitiveness in the global market.

Through funded benchmarking trips to counties like Muranga, known for its avocado expertise, and the comprehensive training of BAFA officials in leadership and governance, all sponsored by KCDMS, Ndegwa noted that the region, which has long been overlooked in avocado production, is gradually gaining recognition and visibility.

“KCDMS really encouraged us to continue with this venture by constantly telling us is doable and providing the necessary support needed,” he said.

KCDMS also extended its distribution of seedlings to farmers across the entire Bungoma County, reaching even those in the remotest corners of the region.

Avocado farming in Kisii

In Kisii, Shem Oseko, a small-scale farmer, credited KCDMS for significantly boosting his avocado enterprise since he got in touch with them.

Oseko, who has been in the avocado business for a decade, starting in 2012, noted a considerable improvement in his fortunes, primarily due to KCDMS’s role in establishing market connections for his avocado produce.

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Within the region, Oseko and a group of 50 fellow farmers have reaped the benefits of KCDMS’s engagement in their farming activities. This has included training and access to crucial market information.

Shem Oseko, a hass avocado farmer in Kisii County at his farm
Shem Oseko, a hass avocado farmer in Kisii County at his farm

“Before KCDMS came on board, the prices were bad but now they are more competitive because we are also producing high-quality avocados courtesy of the good training that we received,” he said.

The avocado sector is one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors in Kenya, and it is now a major contributor to the country’s economy.

The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that Kenya exported over 100,000 metric tons of avocados in 2022.

President William Ruto’s government has committed to expanding market access for Kenyan avocados by negotiating new export agreements with foreign countries.

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