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Kenyan farmers embrace avocado farming as maize farming becomes unprofitable

by Grace Kisembo

Farmers in Kanduyi constituency of Bungoma County have embraced avocado farming as the high cost of inputs has made maize farming unprofitable.

Kanduyi constituency Agriculture Director, David Shivonji said avocado farming was introduced to farmers in the area in 2019 and has been embraced because of its cost-effectiveness and availability of the market.

He said that unlike maize farming, avocado farming does not require a lot of capital to start but only requires patience for the fruit to grow.

“Farmers here thought that avocado farming only does well in Central and Trans Nzoia but have come to realize that it also grows very well here in Bungoma,” said Shivonji.

“In 2019, avocado seedlings were affected by drought. In 2021, the venture picked up and is doing well with at least 1000 farmers in Kanduyi supplied with avocado seedlings,” Shivonji said.

The constituency agriculture director pointed out that farmers have specifically been given a variety of avocado known as Hass.

He said the Hass variety is resistant to pests and diseases and requires low rainfall. It is also cheap to maintain and the capital outlay is low.

In addition, it is the only year-round variety. It is oval shape with a thick pebbled skin that turns from green to purple-black when ripe.

It has a creamy pale green flesh with a classic avocado flavor. One tree gives 200-300 fruits per year and one acre of land accommodates up to 46 trees. Kenya Seed from Kitale supplies this seedling to the farmers in Kanduyi.

He advised farmers to embrace the certified seedlings, adding that the uncertified seedlings take a long time to mature compared to the certified seedlings.

“All farmers should diversify in farming in case one crop fails then the other crop compensates,” the director advised.

Norway and Japan are some of the leading international states where the Kanduyi farmers supply their avocados and up until now, the market has been favourable for the farmers.

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