Seven avocado trees generate more than 500 coffee trees. Is this the reason farmers in Kenya are shifting from coffee to avocados?
Currently, in Kenya, there is a growing trend in the number of farmers who are more interested in planting Avocado as opposed to Coffee. In 2017, Coffee was the second major agricultural export product for the country after Tea. Surprisingly most of these farmers have not regretted switching from planting Coffee to planting Avocado which is now in high demand.
According to a businessdaily interview, Steve Mbugua a coffee farmer in the Nyeri county of Kenya uprooted 500 coffee trees about eight years ago and replaced them with 500 seedlings of Hass avocados. In Kenya, Hass and Fuerte Avocado now have huge export demand and Mbugua makes ten times what he earned from coffee.
Seven avocado trees generate about as much income as 500 coffee trees. The price of coffee on the global market has also fallen from about $2.80 a pound in 2011 to about $1.12 a pound.
Apart from the price of coffee falling on the global market, it is easier to plant and harvest Avocado than coffee because the weather is no longer conducive to growing Coffee. Some farmers also keep bees, which provide honey and help boost avocado production by pollinating the trees. The farmers also no longer spend money to transport their crops because Avocado is in high demand and the buyers prefer to come and buy the goods before someone else does.
In recent years, the popularity of Avocados has increased global and it is driven by the global awareness of their health benefits. Data from the US Department of Agriculture revealed that in the United States, per capita consumption of avocado increased from 3.5 pounds in 2006 to 7.1 pounds in 2016.
With 70 percent of Avocado growers being small-scale farmers. Kenya is now the second largest exporter of Avocado after South Africa. About one-fifth of its annual harvest is exported mainly to Europe and Middle East markets.
However, there are concerns by stakeholders that farmers should not rush to uproot their coffee trees in order to plant Avocado.
This is because it takes about three years to start producing fruit, and a further two to reach maturity. During this period of waiting, the farmers might not have money to feed their families.
Some Kenyan farmers are also hopeful that coffee demand would likely rise as the government and the private sector have been working to promote Kenyan coffee abroad and improve governance at cooperatives. They also warn that this recent boom is unpredictable as other farmers might decide to flood the market with more Avocados thereby forcing the price of Avocado to fall globally.
Africa accounts for about 12 percent of the world’s coffee production. Ethiopia is the leading African producer, followed by Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Tanzania and Kenya. Ethiopia and Uganda dominate the region’s coffee production, with both countries accounting for 62percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s coffee output.
ARTICLE CREDIT: TheNerve
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