Nakuru County Government has increased financial allocation for avocado seedlings distribution program to Sh 52 million up from Sh 42 million allocated last year, in a move aimed at upgrading avocado production in the County.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui said the programme is set to benefit 10,000 avocado farmers across the County.
He said the certified seedlings will enable farmers reap high yields, adding that not only will they earn good money, but also improve on the environment as well as benefit from other avocado tree products such as firewood and timber.
While observing that Hass Avocado variety had proven to be a lucrative venture with farmers who embraced the variety earlier already raking in huge profits, the Governor urged more farmers to come on board and increase avocado production for export.
County Chief Officer for Agriculture, Kibet Maina, said the County was targeting to distribute over 66,000 avocado seedlings across the County before the end of this Financial Year.
He said the Department of Agriculture in the County was donating avocado seedlings to farmers in various Sub-counties, including Kuresoi South where farmers in Keringet, Tibet and Amalo Wards have benefitted from the avocado stimulus program.
He added that other farmers drawn from Njoro, Gilgil, Molo, Nakuru East and Nakuru West Sub-counties have received a total of 31,998 avocado seedlings this financial year.
Maina, however, called on the avocado farmers to form cooperatives societies to enable them have a high bargaining power when selling their produce, particularly export produce.
He said the County had established Nakuru County Call Center, where farmers could get information on agricultural related issues to enable them upgrade their trade.
Maina at the same time said the Avocado programme will help improve on forest cover owing to several years of poor agricultural practices that have seen indigenous trees depleted.
Recent reports indicated that Kenya topped Africa’s avocado exporters in 2020, and was also ranked among the world’s top 10 producers, with Murang’a County leading with 31 per cent of total production followed by Kiambu, Nakuru, Kisii, Nyamira, Meru and Bomet counties.
Kenya’s exports of avocados hit about 68,000 tons between January and October 2021, generating Sh14 billion for the country. Between January and November this year, avocado farmers earned Sh14.48 billion compared to Sh14.41 billion over a similar period last year.
African Avocados have gained recognition globally, with the majority of exported avocado varieties being from South Africa and Kenya. Hass and Fuerte are the most exported varieties from Kenya.
Kenya has been known to support its budget through agriculture majoring on exports of tea, coffee and cut-flowers. However, Avocado is now getting a lot of attention with Kenya said to be in an ideal location for avocado production since it’s in subtropical climates.
By Esther Mwangi and Chepkemoi Charloth