The main reason why the Avocado Society of Kenya discourages harvesting and export of immature Avocados is two fold :- farmers get peanuts and endure fruit theft, the fruits do not ripen properly thus are a turnoff to importers, retailers and consumers of Kenyan avocados who may also develop a dislike for Kenyan produce or probably anything Kenya.

This means continued export of these fruits will make us not only loose on our current market but also loose prospective ones

It is abit difficult to predict when an avocado fruit is truly mature by just looking at it. Some of the most notable changes include:- fruit looses glossiness, becomes duller, seed coat becomes thin and brown instead of freshy and white. Sometimes, the green ones are mature when a yellowish tint appears on the stem end of the fruit end and so forth….this depends on variety .Avo’ with stalk too firmly attached are immature but those with loosely attached stalk are also too mature for export .

Immature avocados have a specific weight of 1.02-0.95g/cm3. While those that mature have a specific weight of 0.95- 0.85g/cm3. Immature avo’ sink or float below the surface of water while mature avo’ float on top of water

Determination of Dry Matter/ Oil content

This is the widely accepted scientific method. This can be done through the microwave oven method.The main disadvantage is that it is very tedious and time consuming.One person can hardly test 20 fruits in a day. This is the main method used by at our facilities.

With many exporters, urgency to harvest and export once orders are secured , your guess is as good as mine on inaccuracy of these tests

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Ray of Hope

An American company Helix Instruments has developed a real time field friendly portable gadget that uses near infrared analysis . In about 12 seconds you results are good to go.We encourage our inspectors to have this gadget .

Legislation on Avocado Maturity.

On 24 , July 1925 Califonias enacted a legislation on Avocado standards which permitted sale of avocados with a minimum oil content of 8%. Further ,to this some companies did set higher percentages based on their localities and varieties.

Since its cumbersome to measure oil content, the Dry Matter which is inversely proportion to oil Content is often measured as a maturity index. Further to this , independently, the califonia retailers established taste preferences which recommended a DM of 21.0% for Fuerte , 22.8% for Hass and 20.0%for Pinkerton.

The taste tests were carried in Califonia within a period of 5 years where people were subjected to two weeks of taste tests during the fruiting

Muranga Kenya. 95 years since the Califonia Avocado Standardization Bill, Muranga County Government is set to enact a similar legislation in a couple of weeks. We hope this will serve as a deterrant to harvesting and sale of immature fruits

ARTICLE CREDIT: Muthomi Ernest – ASOK

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