Kenyan Agronomist Francis Kamau who is also an agri-preneur has urged the youth and other farmers to venture into the lucrative hass avocado and pawpaw farming so as to grow the economy and create employment.
“For farmers with foresight, now is the time to venture into pawpaw or avocado farming as the market for these two fruits continues to expand and they will certainly be ahead of the curve,” he states.
Kamau observes that the hass avocado is currently the most popular variety and accounts for up to 80percent of avocados consumed worldwide.
“With a lifespan of 200 to 400 years while still bearing fruit, a farmer cannot go wrong with avocado farming considering the crop is less labour intensive and the fruit has a long shelf life and thus is the most suitable for the export market with high yields and is resistant to diseases and pests,” he adds.
The 30-year-old Egerton University graduate not only grows pawpaws and hass avocados in his 2-acre piece of land at the perennially dry Ithanga Kakuzi Sub-county, Murangá South, but also supplies high value fruit tree seedlings to other farmers as he offers them agronomic support and soil testing analysis.
“Farmers should go for the best quality avocados that are acceptable in the export market so as to benefit from the venture,” he offers.
“To fully grow a healthy tree, the soil composition must be loose, sandy, well drained with a PH of 6.5 or lower” Kamau adds
Hass avocado requires a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day and can fetch up to Sh240 per kilogramme.
Avocados contain high levels of healthy beneficial fats, soluble fiber and are a source of vitamins C, E, K, and B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and omega -3 fatty acids which are beneficial to the body.
Pawpaws, Kamau opines, have a high return on investment since they mature within 7 months thus helping the farmer to recoup the money invested as soon as possible for other investments.
Pawpaw does well in light well drained soils with a soil PH of 6.0 to 6.5 and varieties range from those that could withstand drought to those that require round the clock irrigation thus water economical.
“Paw paws are tolerant to pests, diseases and some can even withstand harsh climatic conditions,” he notes.
Kamau observes that just like the hass avocado, paw paws are less labour intensive and a maximum of 800 seedlings could be planted in an acre piece of land at a spacing of 2.5M by 2.5M.
He adds that 1 seedling will give 75-150 fruits whereby a piece can be sold at Sh30 and above.
Paw paws are a favourite breakfast and dessert fruit that is available all year round and is used to make fruit salads, refreshing drinks, jam jelly marmalade, candies and crystallized fruits.
By Florence Kinyua