Due to the prolonged droughts in Kenya, some coffee farmers, who grow one of the country's most important cash crops, have opted for new productions that demand less water. Steve Mbugua, for example, is a farmer from Nyeri County that decided to stop growing coffee and planted Hass avocados. It was a wise decision, despite some of his neighbors questioning him at first.
Kenya is the fifth-largest producer of coffee in Africa, with annual yields of around 40,000 tons. However, this crop requires a lot of irrigation, and Kenyan producers can lose a lot of grain to the droughts, which pose a risk to the livelihoods of impoverished farming communities. This situation is being exacerbated by climate change, as rainfall patterns are increasingly erratic on the continent.
Compared to coffee, avocados are more tolerant to rainfall variations, they are low-maintenance plants and require less attention. Additionally, avocados are an ideal cash crop in countries like Kenya, where they are among the most popular fruits throughout the year in local markets.
Growing this sought-after fruit has given farmers like Mbugua a much better and more reliable income than growing coffee. "Avocado is in high demand because it is considered a very nutritious fruit and has a lot of health benefits," the farmer stated. "I knew I would make money," he added.