Kenya has since been known as an agricultural country with leading exports like tea, coffee, flowers, but there is a new produce that is getting lots of attention- the avocado. Kenya resides in an ideal location for avocado growth, as avocados thrive in subtropical climates.
Kenya and South Africa are one of the major exporters of African avocados, with hass, fuerte and pinkerton varieties. There is a great potential for hass avocado production in Kenya because of the impressive climatic conditions for its production especially in the central and rift valley regions. Most avocado farms are near Nairobi, where the export packing factories are located.
The main season for Kenyan avocados is March to September with Fuerte being available from March and hass variety being available from May. However, given the tropical climate and different avocado growing zones in Kenya, there are fruits throughout the year although in smaller quantities outside the main season period.
Kenya also enjoys a competitive advantage over other exporting countries because the hass variety harvesting season extends later in the year, than perus, granting Kenya a window of opportunity in the export market. Kenyan avocados sell in Europe at roughly three times their domestic price, making the export opportunity extremely attractive.
Kenya produces an estimated 115,000 metric tones of avocado annually, 70% of which is grown by small-scale farmers. Some years back, most of the avocados were sold in local markets, but this has drastically changed this year, where three quarters of the avocado fruit grown is exported to other countries.
This drastic change has been attributed to technological advancements called `reefer` introduced by Maersk lines has made it possible to transport Kenyan avocados beyond the middle east to Europe markets.
Most of the Kenyan avocado farmers are found in muranga, nyeri, kiambu, kisii, meru and Mt Kenya avocado regions. Kenya has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of countries interested in Kenya avocados, these counties are, Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Iran, Libya, and Egypt among others. Leading exporters include Mt. Kenya Avocado Farms.
Avocados’ nutritional health benefit is also a factor that is boosting its demand. People around the world have the knowledge on its health benefits and wide variety of its uses. Guacamole food, with avocado as its main ingredient is very popular especially in America, greatly increases avocado consumption and importation.
Initiatives by the Kenyan government have been a boost to Kenyan avocado industry to fully comply with global standards and regulations. Bodies like KEPHIS are actively involved in monitoring as well as educating farmers and exporters. Increased investment by county government also plays an important role in boosting farmers who struggled with low prices from brokers.
Today in Kenya more and more farmers are compelled to start growing improved avocado trees, which will triple the countries production rates for exportation. The big season for avocado has begun with an expected high rise in volumes of exported avocados.