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Nakuru County Rejuvenates Avacado Sector

Nakuru County has launched a sustained campaign to revitalise avocado farming as it seeks to unlock untapped potential running into billions of shillings in the regional and international markets.
County Agriculture Chief Officer Mr. Kibbet Maina said the devolved unit had increased its budgetary allocation for the avocado sub sector from Sh 42 million in the past financial year to Sh 52 million in the current financial year.
He said the devolved unit was strategising on moving avocado farmers in Nakuru from subsistence farming and encouraging them to embrace high-value export market.
“We have distributed 12,400 avocado seedlings to 600 farmers in Maela ward, Naivasha Sub County under the avocado seedling distribution program.
“The County is reinforcing sensitization of crop diversification, increasing income as well as promoting food and nutrition security. The Department will continue to distribute avocado seedlings in other sub counties during this rainy season,” stated Mr. Maina
Kenya exported Sh10 billion avocados in the 2017-18 financial year, according to data from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis).
The European Union accounted for 42 percent of the market while the Middle East came second at 28 percent.
Avocados rank fourth most important national fruit crop and have grown to represent 17 percent of Kenya’s total horticultural exports.
The Agriculture Chief Officer revealed that the devolved unit had put strategies in place to recruit 10,000 new farmers to grow the crop and increase the acreage it covers.
Governor Lee Kinyanjui said his administration was committed to resuscitating avocado alongside other traditional crops like coffee and potatoes. He further affirmed that the county was working overdrive to revive the once multibillion pyrethrum industry in Nakuru.
Mr. Kinyanjui said that the county will establish avocado purchasing, sorting and packing bays as it seeks to tap into the international market.
It is expected to give farmers a direct market locally and abroad and eliminate brokers.
Last year the county distributed at least 40,000 seedlings to farmers across the county under the revamp of farming in the county.
“We want to focus on the regional and international market outlets instead of selling the crop to brokers at throwaway prices. Brokers buy the fruit for between Sh10 and Sh15 but reap huge profits at the expense of farmers,” he said.
This is part of a grand plan by the county to help farmers tap into the East African and foreign export markets through value addition.
Nakuru, regarded as a key food basket in Rift Valley, is banking on direct sales of its farm produce to foreign markets and value addition to grow revenues.
Nakuru is also one of the leading producers of potatoes, milk, vegetables among other crops.
“We have identified avocados as a potential income earner for our farmers due to the high demand both locally and internationally,” said Mr. Kinyanjui.
By Jane Ngugi

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