The quality of Avocados from Meru County is set to improve after the Avocado Society of Kenya held a farmers’ field day to sensitise farmers on the best practices of production.
Speaking during the event held at Kaguru Agricultural Centre, that attracted more than 40 exhibitors from the agricultural sector, the society’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Earnest Muthomi, said the event was also meant to inform the farmers on the status of Avocado farming in the country so they can be informed on where they are and where they were and their future as avocado farmers.
“We want to thank the exhibitors as well as the County government of Meru for making this event a success. Governor Kiraitu Murungi is very passionate about avocado farming in the County and this will help improve the economic status of our people,” said Mr Muthomi.
He said Meru County gets about Sh1billion from avocado farming and called on the residents to start investing in avocado farming to tap the good returns.
“There is a great demand for avocados from the entire world owing to their nutritious value. I have toured at least seven European countries which are the main consumers of avocados from the country and the demand is still high,” said Mr Muthomi, adding that the countries have never had enough avocados from Kenya and all that they want is the good quality of the fruit,” said Mr Muthomi.
He called on the farmers to ignore rumours that the avocados exported to the European Countries are used for other purposes apart from human consumption, which has as a result compromised the quality of the fruits.
“The farmers as a result end up harvesting immature avocadoes which end up destroying our markets abroad,” he said.
He called on farmers to be dealing with companies that are linked to the society since they were the ones with the correct information concerning the requirements of the available markets.
At the same time, the society in collaboration with the Soko Fresh company launched a Sh2.6 million solar-powered cold room that will help in the preservation of avocados before marketing.
Mr Albert Kinoti from the Soko Fresh Company said the facility has a capacity to hold 250 crates of avocado which is equivalent to five tonnes.
He added that the fruits can be held at the facility for at least 14 days before they are taken to the market.
Muthomi called on the farmers to take their fruits to the facility and stop selling to brokers in order to realise the full benefits of avocado farming.
“People should now stop getting worried about the market of their products because we have companies that will be working closely with us for marketing and money will be paid on delivery,” said Mr Muthomi.
Meru County’s Agriculture Director, Mr Martin Munene, said the County Government was in support of the programme which is one of their flagship projects as a department.
“We have seen avocado farmers from this County benefiting and when we started, we had total acreage of 1000 hectares under avocado farming as opposed to the current now close to 400,000 hectares,” said Mr Munene.
The demand for avocados in the international markets, he added, is increasing daily and we want to tap the market for the benefit of our farmers.
By Dickson Mwiti