Nakuru county government has distributed over 500,000 avocado seedlings to small scale farmers since the inception of the programme three years ago worth Sh50, 000,000.
Speaking Tuesday at the Njoro sub-county during the finalized distribution of the 66,000 avocado seedlings, Chief Agricultural Officer Kibet Maina said they have collaborated with various partners to achieve their target across the county.
He urged farmers to nurture the seedlings to maturity to enable fruit sustainability for both the local and international market as well as enhanced nutrition for their families.
Kibet said the county seeks to increase avocado acreage from the current 4,000 acres of land under the fruit to 8,000 acres in the next five years in order to position itself as the leading exporter.
The Chief Officer encouraged farmers to form cooperatives where they would have higher bargaining power instead of selling through middlemen.
In addition, the chief officer appealed to the unemployed youth across the county to practice agriculture since it serves as a platform for employment, income generation, and food security.
Julius Maina, an avocado farmer in Njoro, said his 50 trees have changed his financial status and he encouraged other farmers to venture into the lucrative fruit farming.
However, he said the greatest challenge farmers faced was the lack of adequate water during the long and unpredicted droughts because fruit farming required a constant water supply.
Kibet said the Chinese Government has already made an undertaking to open up its market for avocado farmers, and there was an urgent need to multiply the amount grown in the country.
He said an avocado tree has the capacity of producing 200 to 300 fruits once it’s about five to seven years old. However, the high production alternate bears meaning the tree produces abundantly one year and smaller crops the following year.
Also, he said many beauty products, particularly facial creams and hair products incorporate avocado fruit in their products due to the healthy high-fat content.
By Veronica Bosibori