“We could fill the gap and demand during the off season for the Hass avocados”

The popularity of the avocado knows no limits, but not every grower or exporter can fully take advantage of this fact. One Ugandan avocado exporter has noticed that even though other countries can’t meet the overwhelming demand, they can’t simply step in to fill the gap.

Sekitoleko Solomon is the director for Ugandan avocado exporter North Fruits Uganda. According to him they still have a lot of avocados to go around: “The avocado season in Uganda runs from mid-October to mid-July. Outside of this season, there is still some availability of avocado, but in fewer quantities. Uganda exported roughly 10,000 tons of avocado last year. From estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture, this figure is expected to increase to 15,000 tons of avocado this year. There was an extended period of good rainfall towards the end of last year, between October and mid-January. The harvest this year is too much, creating a situation of surplus of avocados in the middle east. This has resulted in lower prices for the avocados.”

The avocados of North Fruits are mainly exported to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle-East. Solomon would love to expand his exports towards countries like Jordan, India and Egypt, but this has been a challenge so far: “Jordan and India have unfavorable quarantine rules, only allowing avocados from New Zealand, Peru and Chile. I think this is very unfair, considering that Uganda has a lot of avocados, which are available throughout the entire year. A country like Jordan really needs food and as a result all export markets should be given a chance to showcase their products. Unfortunately for us at North Fruits it has proven impossible to have these quarantine restrictions lifted, as there is little political will on both sides to grant access to the Jordanian market. The Indian and Egyptian markets have similar restrictions and as a result we are left with our frustration. Given that avocados from Peru, Chile and Mexico (Hass) run out very fast as the demand for it is quite high, Ugandan avocados could fill this gap and demand during the off season for the Hass avocado.”

This isn’t the only challenge North Fruits had to face this season. Infrastructure has remained an issue as well, as Uganda can not export by sea due to its geographical location: “Uganda is a landlocked country, meaning we have to rely on air transport to ship out fresh produce. We can’t ship by sea, which means it’s hard to penetrate some of these wholesale markets in the Middle-East and Europe. We therefore have to find targeted niche buyers who fetch a good price for our avocados in these regions. The next step is to make sure buyers know that Uganda can fulfil any gap in the case countries like Kenya don’t have avocados left. We have made an effort to make buyer aware of this fact by using our social media platforms aggressively to advertise our products and we are planning on showcasing our products later this year at the FOODEX show in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.”

Annually, North Fruits exports around 840 tons of avocados. With four different varieties, being Fuerte, Pinkerton, Zutano and Jumbo, North Fruits has a lot to offer, claims Solomon: “We’d still like to improve our business though. In the short term the expanse of our markets is crucial, along with the marketing of our produce. In the long term we’re looking at acquiring global gap certification for our avocados. Besides having an extensive network of avocado farmers to ensure supply, as a company we have embarked on a plan of planting our own avocados on 150 hectares of land to help us fulfil the growing demand for avocados.”

For more information:
Sekitoleko Solomon
North Fruits Uganda Ltd.
Tel: +256706242914 (WahtsApp/Imo/Telegram)
Facebook: Northfruits Uganda

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