KENYA – Kenya is tying a direct relationship with one of the biggest Israeli packers of avocados, Granot avocado firm in Hadera, which will immensely benefit the local avocado farmers.
Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi, who toured the firm, said Granot has already established its base in Naivasha and Nakuru counties in Kenya.
“Naivasha and Nakuru have begun growing large-scale avocado for the export market and creating employment opportunities for approximately 2,000 employees,” he said.
The collaboration with Granot will benefit farmers by directly gaining improved seedlings, technology, pack houses, and international market linkages.
The Israeli company will engage out-growers who will benefit directly by selling their products to them to increase incomes for farmers and cut off middlemen who suppress farmers.
Data from the Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD) under the Agriculture and Food Authority shows that avocado exports rose from 66 million tonnes in 2018 to 86 million tonnes in 2021, with an estimated value of US$15.15 billion in 2022.
HCD indicated that Kenya’s exports of avocado to China hit Sh7 billion in three months to October 2022, exceeding the earnings that were realized in the first seven months of the year.
The National Horticulture Taskforce recently launched Good Agricultural Practice Guides for avocado, beans, and peas in pods for Kenyan farmers.
“The guidelines outline the procedures to be adopted by various value chain actors in the beans, peas, and avocado value chains to ensure and assure compliance with both market and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) requirements at the national and international level,” Taskforce chairman, Clement Tulezi said.
He said that the good agricultural guides have come at a critical moment in the horticultural sector, which is currently facing major bottlenecks, that need to be addressed to enable it to thrive.
The good practice guides contain strategies for addressing disease prevalence which has led to the unripening of mature fruits or hardening and harvesting of immature avocados that have led to the flagging of avocado exports to the niche markets.
The good practices involved other partners, namely the NExt Kenya Programme, European Union, Kenya Flower Council, and the COLEAD (Committee Linking Entrepreneurship Agriculture Development) among others.
The HCD has suspended two avocado exporting firms on allegations of shipping immature avocados to overseas markets in a violation of set rules that the country has put in place.
According to the regulator, avocados should be harvested when they reach maturity and are determined by a minimum dry matter standard of 24 percent. It announced that the 2023 avocado harvesting season officially opened on March 24th, 2023, but cautioned growers against harvesting immature fruit.
In a recent circular signed by the director of the authority’s horticultural crops directorate Benjamin Tito, all avocado fruits for export are to be subjected to 100 percent inspection before being shipped to international markets.