Livestock and Fisheries Chief Administrative Secretary, Lina Jebii Kilimo has called on Pastoralist Communities in the Rift Valley to adopt Avocado farming, as a way of minimizing cattle rustling.
Kilimo, while noting Avocado farming will also increase job opportunities for the locals, regretted that banditry had thrived because the perpetrators lacked the knowhow on alternative sources of livelihoods.
Speaking when she led a tour of Credible Blooms farm, in Rumuruti, Laikipia West Constituency, the CAS called on leaders from arid and semi-arid areas to organize benchmarking events for farmers to learn, from the farm.
“Kenyans are taking up the challenge to create jobs. We are promoting the growth of Avocados because there is a huge export market,” she said.
“This farm is a good example for an ordinary farmer as it does not require much mechanization to grow this fruit. There are many rivers in Rift Valley that can be used to irrigate these farms,” added Kilimo.
Proprietor of Credible Blooms, Mr. Gerald Njenga noted that the 11 hectares of the Hass Variety Avocado crop had employed more than 500 people.
“We have approximately 160 plants per acre with a spacing of 4meters between plants. The trees are two and a half years old and we already did our first harvest of about 30 tonnes per acre. The second harvest, later this year, would translate to about 80 tonnes an acre,” noted Njenga.
Njenga, who also grows flowers for export in the semi-arid area, noted that the Avocado’s cost of production was less than 10 percent that of flowers, with increased production expected as the crop matured.
“Root rot due to water clocking is a major issue so we use drip irrigation, coupled with raising the soil around the plant ensures proper drainage,” educated Njenga
Laikipia Chief Officer for Agriculture and fisheries, Emily Kioko noted that the Hass Avocado Variety was best suited for export more than other five local varieties available in the county.
“We have brought small Holder farmers to learn from this farm. One of the farmers has 2,000 certified tree seedlings of high value that he is supplying to the value chain,” noting that the county was paying more attention to Avocado farming.
The Semi-Arid Laikipia West Sub County has seen a number of ranchers venture in Avocado farming on a large scale.
by Anne Sabuni