Global avocado craze is a business opportunity in Africa

Farmers in Kenya are starting to shift from traditionally grown maize to avocados because of their better prices and yields. One such farmer, Albert Gumo, started his avocado journey just over a month ago and has already had two successful harvests. He is happy with the results.

“I started harvesting about five weeks ago. The first harvest I got 6,000 Kenya shillings [USD 50]. The second harvest I got 11,000 Kenya shillings [USD 92], the third harvest after eight weeks will probably net me 30,000 [USD 250],” Mr Gumo said.

Small-scale farmers like Mr Gumo who have traditionally grown maize in the region are shifting to avocado farming because of poor sales and changing weather patterns. Farmers are also able to harvest the crop continuously for eight months.

Mr Gumo is one of 5,000 farmers working in the region.

I want my avocado toast!

Demand for avocados has soared globally in recent years as consumers become aware of their health benefits.

Kenya is now Africa’s largest producer of avocados exporting about 80,000 tonnes annually. The country ships produce to Europe, the Middle East and also trades with other African countries including Egypt and South Africa and.

The country has also ventured into the Asian market in August this year, becoming the first African country to export fresh avocados to China.

Kenya – a heaven for avocados

Kenya offers a favourable climate to grow avocados with many farmers investing in the Hass variety for export which tolerates different rainfall conditions and diseases. The variety is also easy to propagate.

The produce ends up at plants like Mofarm Fresh Fruit exporters for cleaning, packaging and shipping to clients abroad.

“Our biggest market now for the Hass avocado is in Spain and also some quantities go to the Netherlands,” said Mofarm packhouse manager, Claris Wambui.

According to Benjamin Toto, the director of Kenya’s Horticulture Crops Directorate, Kenya was able to export 11 million kilos of avocado in June and eight million kilos of avocados in May.