Avocados are green, pear-shaped fruits that grow on tropical trees. The fruit is highly nutritious and contains various vitamins, minerals, fats, and fiber. They also contain antioxidants, which aid in disease prevention and health improvement.
Avocados have gained a robust following, and their popularity is spreading globally, including in Africa. For example, Kenya and Uganda are increasing avocado production to become top exporters in the coming decade. In East Africa, avocado farmers have broken into the lucrative export market, earning themselves a spot at the top.
This blog post will go over avocado farming in East Africa, where it is grown, the benefits of avocado farming, and its profitability.
What You Need to Know About Avocado Farming in East Africa
Avocados are indigenous to Mexico and Central America. It was introduced to Jamaica in the late 1650s and to Southern Spain in 1601. Between 1650 and 1700, settlers from the West Indies and other Dutch colonies brought avocado farming to Africa.
The Portuguese introduced the avocado plant to East Africa through Kenya in the 1930s. They brought over 40 avocado varieties, with Hass and Fuerte spreading widely. The plant later spread to other countries in East Africa, including Rwanda and Tanzania.
Countries in Africa have been capitalizing on the world’s love of avocados. South Africa is the largest avocado exporter in Africa, ranking among the top ten globally. East African nations like Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and newcomer Mozambique are increasing avocado production in Africa for export.
These East African countries have also improved their avo-farming techniques, which has given them the advantage of competing on an international platform. The humid and subtropical climate in East Africa has also favored the growth of avocado farming.
Avocado Varieties Exported from East Africa.
Kenya leads East African states in the global avocado market. East Africa has over 40 varieties of avocados. But the most popular avocado varieties grown for export include the following;
Kenya is the leading producer of this avocado variety in East Africa. Hass is ripe when the skin turns dark and ready to serve when the inside is white-green. The production volume is likely to increase in East Africa as many farmers switch to avocados, with Hass being the most popular and rising in demand in the global market.
Why is Hass Avocado Preferred?
The reasons why Hass avocado is preferred include;
The Hass plant is superior due to its extended harvest season and higher yield. Farmers benefit from its increased output through more sales.
Long storage life
The fruits have tough skin, which aids in minimizing fruit damage during transportation. They have a longer shelf life than other varieties, lasting up to three weeks from harvest. This facilitates shipment and handling.
This variety is a cross between the Mexican and Guatemalan avocado subspecies. Fuerte avocados have a pear shape and a thin, glossy skin that is green in color. This avocado variety is primarily grown in Kenya compared to other African countries.
This avocado type is a dark green avocado variety. The fruit tree is a deep purple and almost maroon towards the fruit. The fruit itself is green. This variety is more common in East Africa than in other parts of the continent.
Also, Read; Avocado Farming; All You Need to Know
How Profitable is Avocado Farming in East Africa?
Farmers in East Africa are identifying avo-farming as the “new gold.” For instance, most farmers in Kenya are withdrawing from coffee farming to adopt avocado farming. Most small-scale avocado farmers in East Africa have begun participating in an export growing scheme with large-scale producers. These commercial producers grow avocado fruit intending to sell it overseas.
When determining profitability, it is essential to consider the cost of production, the scale, and the nature of farming avocado trees regardless of location. And we can all agree that organic avocado farming is less expensive than conventional farming. The difference in production costs is due to farmyard manure being less costly than chemical fertilizers.
Additionally, biological, cultural, and mechanical pest and disease control methods for avocado trees and fruits are less expensive than pesticides and fungicides when practicing organic farming. Avocado farming typically becomes profitable after the fifth or sixth year, when the trees are more mature and produce their second harvest.
So, how profitable is avocado farming in East Africa? In Kenya, one Hass avocado tree produces an average of Ksh 3,500 per season. Avocados are harvested in two seasons. A farmer with 50 avo-trees per acre can pocket up to Ksh 350,00 annually if sold at Ksh 5 per fruit.
Tanzania also exported 11,237 tonnes of avocado worth $3.3 million in 2021. The figure represents a 12.6 percent increase over 2020 exports. The Tanzania Horticultural Association(THA) forecasts exports of 15,000 tonnes in 2023. The estimate is USD 45 million in foreign currency.
The Benefits of Avocado Farming in East Africa
Avocado farming is one of the most profitable and rapidly growing businesses in East Africa. Below are some benefits associated with avocado farming.
Avocado farming is a good substitute in the agricultural sector. This is perfectly working in East African countries that adopted avo-farming. The diversification has seen the countries generating more income and economic growth.
Avocado farming requires a workforce to ensure a smooth flow. With this, avocado farming creates job opportunities.
Investing in avocado processing facilities is one of the opportunities highlighted in the Avocado Sub-sector in East African countries. Examples include sorting, cleaning, grading, packaging, production of assorted salads, cooking oil, cosmetics, soap products, and much more.
Avocado farming has grown in popularity in East Africa. The difference in demand and supply allows the fruit to command high prices on the global market. East African avocado farmers are filling the demand-supply gap, with the most critical market being the EU.
Avocado companies like Avodemia limited also play a huge role in promoting avocado farming in East Africa. The company provides the farmers with basic avocado farming training. They also offer specialists who visit and assist the farmers on their farms.