Kenya hass avocado farmers benefits hugely as China-Africa cooperation deepens
Zola Franco, who owns a Mexican restaurant in north China’s Tianjin Municipality, has recently made some fresh adjustments to the ingredients. In some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, he subbed Kenyan hass avocados for those grown in Mexico, the world’s largest hass avocado producer.
“It’s really cool to make Mexican food with Kenyan avocados in China,” Franco said.
Meanwhile, about 8,000 km away in Nandi County, northwestern Kenya, 62-year-old Richard Tuwei had just harvested the last batch of avocados. Previously, a good portion of the tropical fruit from his roughly seven-acre (about 2.8 hectares) avocado orchard had already been shipped across the ocean to China and sold at a decent price.
Tuwei is among the first beneficiaries after Kenya commenced maritime transport of fresh avocados to China in August, in line with a protocol signed by the two nations in January.
Du Gongming, general manager of a Shanghai-based importer, said more than 150 containers of avocados are expected to be imported from Kenya in the latter part of this year’s harvest season, and the figure is expected to hit 1,500 containers in the upcoming season in 2023.
Kenyan authorities noted that the country’s export of avocados to China will gradually increase to 100,000 tonnes a year in the next few years.
Tuwei, who was once a maize farmer, was forced to switch to avocados owing to a string of losses linked to pest infestation, erratic weather and market volatility.
“(I) am happy to witness the opening of the Chinese market to our avocados and look forward to improved earnings for local growers who previously grappled with exploitative middlemen,” he said.
Ernest Muthomi, chief executive officer at Avocado Society of Kenya, believes that as China is a vast market, the new agreement would herald fortunes for local avocado growers.
“Kenya’s export of avocados to China is expected to increase the income of local farmers by 20 to 30 percent on average and create tens of thousands of new jobs,” Du said.
The deepening economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa over the past decades is well reflected in the avocado industry.
Thanks to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative and other government efforts, China and Africa have realized practical cooperation in a wide range of areas, including the agricultural sector.
As the second largest destination for African agricultural exports, the average annual growth rate of African agricultural exports to China has reached 11.4 percent in recent years. In 2021, African agricultural exports to China increased by 18.2 percent year on year.
China will support and facilitate the entry of more high-quality and distinctive African agricultural and food products into the Chinese market, bringing more tangible benefits to the Chinese and African people, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing earlier in August.