A five-year strategic plan for Bungoma Avocado Farmers Association (BAFA) that aims at increasing avocado production in the entire western region has been launched.
Speaking in Bungoma at the launch on Wednesday, the organization’s Chairman, John Ndengwa, urged farmers to consider shifting from mixed farming and maize production to avocado farming to meet the high market demand.
Ndengwa said that his organization is partnering with the Bungoma County government and other organizations to enlist 30,000 farmers in the production of avocado fruits.
He noted that according to a prior research Bungoma’s climate favors the growth of avocado.
“We are partnering with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to increase avocado production,” Ndengwa said.
“This idea aims at promoting small holder farmers as avocado farming only needs a small piece of land,” Ndengwa added, noting that farmers are also being encouraged to practice organic farming to produce avocado.
He said that the recent launch of an aggregated Industrial park at Sang’alo by the government in Bungoma region will also boost the processing of avocado products for export.
“The launch of the aggregated industrial park here in Bungoma is a big win for us as it will add value to the production of avocado products like oil extraction hence earn extra income for the farmers,” he said.
Ndengwa revealed that over 966, 976 households in Kenya own avocado trees
He stated that the area under avocado increased from 13,305ha in 2015 to over 20,000 hectares in 2020 adding that this goes to show the increasing interest among Kenyan farmers in growing of avocado.
“Popularly known as green gold, this fruit is single- handedly transforming the fortunes of many Kenyans,” Ndengwa stated.
He said that in 2020 alone, Kenya produced over 322 metric tonnes of avocado ranking the country as the 6th largest producer of avocados globally behind Mexico, Colombia and Dominican Republic and Peru and Indonesia.
He argues that the volumes of avocados produced in Kenya have been steadily increasing over the last ten years, from 149 metric tonnes in 2011 to 322 metric tonnes in 2022 representing a 116 percent growth, globally.
Kenya, he said was ranked the 8th largest avocado exporter in the world in 2021, with approximately 140 million dollars’ worth of avocados exported in the year,” he revealed.
He added that Kenya is the leading avocado exporter in Africa slightly ahead of South Africa.
Ndengwa confirmed that in Bungoma, they have started primary cooperatives where interested farmers will get avocado seedlings at a subsidized price.
He also added that as an organization they have developed integrated pest management systems.
Bungoma County horticultural crops development officer, David Shivonje, encouraged farmers to take avocado farming as a business saying that the plant has diverse nutritional value to the body.
He said that the crop has taken a frontline in the export market.
“We are encouraging our farmers to take avocado farming as a business, we are also looking at the whole value chain of avocado in our strategy as a county, so we want to train our value chain actors from production to marketing,” he said.
He also noted that Bungoma envisages being the leading county in avocado production in the country.
By Roseland Lumwamu