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Kenyan avocado season has mixed results depending on variety

The avocado season in Kenya has led to mixed feelings when looking at the results. For one variety the season has been really good, while another variety suffered a lot from the weather conditions. Keitt Exporters trades in avocados from Kenya and had to tackle quite a few challenges to make the season successful.

Keitt exports avocados from Kenya among other fruits. The season for the avocados can be described in two ways, depending on which variety is looked at. Dipesh Devraj is the operations and commercial director for Keitt, and says that, for one of the varieties, it was one of the worst seasons they’d seen so far: “The weather this year for Kenya has had a negative impact on production, especially for the ‘Fuerte’ (green skin) variety. This was the worst season we have seen for this variety. The growers of Keitt struggled due to the delayed rains and overall this has contributed to a slide backwards, although from what we have seen on the fields so far, next season will be much stronger for us. When it comes to the Hass variety, the season was good overall.”

The issues with the weather have a direct impact on the produce that Keitt has available this season. The expectations are there will be 20 per cent less in volumes, due to the challenging season. However Keitt Exporters has been very aggressive on all areas to ensure they meet their budgeted sales forecast. According to Devraj, things are looking up for the next run.

The export of Kenyan avocados to China has been a frequently discussed topic both in the media and outside of it. Devraj acknowledges they are very close to finally entering the market: “The activity of trade between China and Kenya is underway and we’re waiting for the market access to open up on fresh avocados. This will come from the regulatory body in Kenya, KEPHIS. It looks like Asia may open up to prepared fruit as well, which is processed under high care – fresh cut – ready to eat concepts.

The future on Chinese markets has a lot of potential due to the high demand. This will be a big focus in the years coming, as we can see the shift on the industry this has created. When I walk the crops in the key growing areas we see more and more farmers converting to growing avocados compared to local market vegetables & tea crops. A little bit of crop rotation is essential to give a good fertigation process and soil health, hence there is a mix of this on the ground. However every time I see more and more seedlings planted, it tells me that in the next three years there will be much more kit.”

China isn’t the only market Keitt has its eyes on, however. Although it’s a great new market to enter, the company also has a strong foothold in Europe and other markets, where they can get great returns for their produce. “For Keitt Exporters, we have other key export markets like Europe, where we are an exclusive partner of Roveg Fruit BV. We are also very strong on the middle east and far east Asia, as well as Russia and Turkey,” Devraj explains. “This season the prices have improved a lot for us. Due to the shortage, we have fetched premium returns and we have targeted the globe when other countries had low stocks of avocados. This has helped us tremendously to attain better prices than the last season.”

Avocado cultivation in Kenya has been a game changer over the last five years. With more and more farmers switching to avocados, more growth is a logical outcome. “We can see the uptake from our own nurseries, which have a strong root stalk. This gives a firm foundation of the plant, with the correct spacing. Thanks to extensive trainings we have made small and large scale avocado farmers successful. We have moved more volumes of seedlings in the past eight months than ever before. This gives us the confidence to remain as the leader in the market, with good service levels to the basket of our global customers.” Devraj concludes.

For more information:
Dipesh Devraj
Keitt Fresh Limited
Tel: +254 722 204 391

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