Kisii County government and Avofresh Processors Limited have signed an agreement for the installation of plant machinery at the Kisii Avocado Factory for processing of avocados and support avocado farmers get fair prices from their produce.
Speaking after the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the Kisii Agricultural Training Centre on the outskirts of Kisii town, Avofresh Director, Fernando Marques lauded the Ministry of Agriculture for continuously supporting them saying the project will go a long way in helping avocado farmers succeed in their farming activities.
Marques noted that through the support of the UK Aid’s Sustainable Economic Development Programme (SUED), they have established collection centres around the county to allow for easy collection of the avocados.
“As a start, we have already gathered over 20 tonnes of fruits and believe that we have started practising fair trade with the farmers whereby we are paying them a fair price within seven days,” he said.
The Director noted the factory will begin its full operations in September and will process up to 100 tonnes of avocados per day.
Deputy British High Commissioner, Julius Court thanked the Kisii Governor for the continuous global partnerships in investment attraction adding that the project will create additional jobs in the factory, provide unlimited markets and increase income to the avocado farmers in the county.
“We are much focused on the climate side of this, it is really important that the waste will be managed in a circular process where we are reusing the waste and that becomes a key part of the project,” said Court.
Kisii Governor, James Ongwae said the factory will be a game changer to over 269, 683 farmers, 648 individuals involved in the collection and over 100 wholesalers in the avocado value chain.
Ongwae pointed out that the county is keen on strengthening the avocado value chain saying that avocado farming was previously done for subsistence purposes and on a small scale.
Currently, Kisii County has 34 major wholesalers of avocado who export about 80 tonnes of avocado per day.
The Governor noted they had registered the Kisii County Avocado Cooperative in all the sub counties to enable farmers address the possible challenges they experienced in their previous value chain such as getting rid of middlemen.
Further, he urged Avofresh to enter into an agreement with the farmers to address matters of extension services and the productive variety of avocados as well as collaborating with the county government in agricultural extension.
The factory is expected to process avocado oil that will be used for making cooking oil and cosmetics among other products.
On his part, Kisii County Commissioner, Allan Machari noted the national government in conjunction with the county government is keen on the project as it will improve the livelihood of citizens in Kisii.
“I assure you that we shall work jointly with the county government to ensure that the project is a success,” Machari said.
He added that they will partner with the Agricultural Extension Officers to ensure that farmers rally behind the production that the factory will require per day.
The County Commissioner expressed his gratitude to the farmers saying they are the producers of the fruit needed for the processing of the oil and therefore, they will receive the support they need.
Avocado farmers in Kisii County grow three different types of avocado, the Kisii Landraces at 70 per cent, Hass at 20 per cent and Fuerte at 10 per cent.
However, the county is keen on improving the production of Hass varieties of avocado to 70 per cent and has already distributed 300,000 seedlings to the farmers.
By Mercy Osongo