Thousands of smallholder avocado farmers in Murang’a will next week launch a co-operative society to help them market and export their produce directly to the European market.
Last year about 30,000 farmers benefitted from the free commercially-viable Hass cultivar avocado seedlings distributed by the Murang’a County Government.
The avocado variety has overwhelming demand in the European market. The first crop is expected end of this year.
“We are sure avocado will overtake coffee as the most important cash crop in Murang’a once we complete the whole cycle and start exporting to Europe,” said Murang’a County governor Mwangi wa Iria.
The new co-operative is expected to improve access to planting materials and technical services, including post-harvest and logistical support to ensure the delivery of high-quality produce.
Studies by experts have shown that central Kenya is better placed to produce high-quality avocado, because the variety produced in the region has high concentration of oil and wax.
“Kenya produces about 115 metric tonnes of avocado annually, 70 per cent of which is grown by small-scale farmers,” said Wa Iria.
Until four years ago, most of this fruit was sold in the local market and a small quantity was exported to the Middle East. The farmers’ biggest complaints have been levelled against brokers who buy the product cheaply but sell it at a high cost.
This is a welcome development to the Avocado value chain in Kenya. The association will also help the members have a uniform voice and have access to funding.