Avocado farmers in Kirinyaga County will this month start harvesting fruits from Hass seedlings distributed four years ago by the county government. 

Farmers who benefited from the programme say their avocado trees are mature and they expect the first harvest. 

Already, some of the beneficiaries in cooperative societies have got a ready market for the fruit, therefore, eliminating middlemen.

Enos Gichanga, the chair of Kirinyaga Avocado Growers Cooperative Society said their cooperative was formed in 2020 and had been selling produce to Kakuzi at Sh25 per fruit as opposed to the Sh7 they would sell to brokers. 

“By forming a cooperative, the county has supported the farmers with seedlings as well as established nurseries, therefore accessing quality seedlings,” said Gichanga. 

He said that by integrating avocados in tea and coffee farming, the farmers have now added value to their farms and an extra income stream. 

“The Hass avocado tree will give returns through the various cycles of harvesting hence fetching farmers more money”, said the chairman. 

He pointed out that the avocado value chain would assist tea and coffee farmers since they are using the same land they have planted their traditional cash crops. 

“One tree can give up to Sh20,000 and so a farmer with several trees among the tea bushes reaps more from avocados than from tea,” he said.

Tabitha Wambere who is a coffee farmer from Gichugu, has integrated avocado into her farm.

She said the fruit has been playing well and has enabled her to uplift her family’s economic status.

Through Wezesha Kirinyaga economic empowerment programme initiated by Governor Anne Waiguru, about 500 farmer groups get support.

Besides distributing Hass avocado seedlings to farmers, Waiguru also spearheaded the formation of a cooperative society which has enabled farmers to collectively negotiate for a better price for their crop.

“We also want to be the leading producer of avocado seedlings where our farmers will be selling quality seedlings to other farmers within and outside Kirinyaga,” said the governor.

She said that due to the rising demand for avocado in the local and export market, avocado farming presents an immense investment opportunity for farmers. 

The county’s current annual avocado production is estimated at 15,000 metric tonnes, worth around Sh300 million.

With the county government’s interventions, the production is expected to go up to 21,000 metric tonnes which will be fetching the farmers around Sh700 million. 

According to Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro), avocado is the leading export fruit in Kenya. 

The demand and prices of the fruit both in export and local markets have been on the increase.

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