Kenya produces avocados throughout the year due to favourable climatic conditions. There are three main varieties, but a lot of growers are now switching to Hass production to meet the European demand.
“We have three main avocado varieties Hass, Fuerte and the local variety commonly known as Jumbo. Hass season starts in mid-March and runs until mid-September while Fuerte starts a little earlier in February and runs until September,” explains Magdaline Kamau from Kenyan avocado grower and exporter Mofarm Exporters. “Most farmers are changing to growing Hass as the market in Europe for that variety is increasing. The Jumbo variety grows all year round in different parts of the country.”
The annual global demand for avocados is increasing at a faster rate than the annual global production resulting in higher prices on the world market. Despite the price increases demand continues to grow.
Mofarm outsources land to grow avocados but due to high demand for avocados the company also contracts small scale farmers and self-help groups which they train on how to produce good quality fruit for export. By doing this they are able to supply good quantity and quality for their customers.
“After harvesting the avocados from our farms or the contracted farms, we bring the produce to our packhouse in Nairobi. At this point the fruit is cleaned in water to wipe out all foreign matter and dust. The fruits are then graded in different sizes in our avocado sorting/grading machine and packed in different boxes/cartons as per the customer specifications. The produce is then pre-cooled in our cold room facilities at a temperature range of 5 degrees awaiting shipping.”
Mofarm exports to Europe, the Middle East, and African countries.
“The different markets have different specifications in sizes and varieties i.e, Europe countries purchase organic and conventional Hass. Africa and the Middle Eastern countries prefer Fuerte and Jumbo varieties. We are working to also venture into the Asian markets such as Singapore, Malaysia and Korea.”
Magdaline said that due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the market has been hit hard.
“Lockdowns in some countries mean we are unable to ship as we had desired, and most airlines have grounded their flights and the few which are still operating are over charging the shipping fee. Some of our customers prefer air shipments but they are hesitance due to the high cost, even cancelling orders until they are able to afford the shipping fee or normalcy is retained.
“The Chinese market specifications are a bit tougher. At the moment only frozen avocado can be shipped there which requires us to upgrade our cold facilities to accommodate the market. We are also looking forward to starting processing avocado oil to avoid wastage of rejected fruits due to cuts and bruises.”
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