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Kenya beats South Africa to emerge as Africa's top avocado exporter

The country produces an estimated 115,000 metric tons of avocado annually, three-quarters of which end up in expanding export markets.

  • The country produces an estimated 115,000 metric tons of avocado annually, three-quarters of which end up in expanding export markets.
  • Apart from high demand, Avocados also takes a shorter time to produce compared to Kenya’s traditional cash crops such as coffee which further boosts its appeal.

Kenyan farmers are growing more and more Avocadoes to meet European demand and as a result the country is now among the world’s biggest exporters of avocados and currently the world’s sixth largest exporter of the fruit.

According to International Trade Centre (ITC) data, Kenya exported a record 51,507 tons in 2017 against old champ South Africa’s 43,492 tons.

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Although Kenya's commercial production of avocado began only 40 years ago, avocados are now estimated to be the fourth most important national fruit crop, behind only to banana, mango and pineapple.

Moreover, avocados have grown to represent 17% of Kenya's total horticultural exports.

In a bid to diversify from its traditional market amid rising competition, Kenyan farmers are now looking to sell their produce in China and India.

The rise of Avocado in Kenya has, however, come with a price.

Early this year, the government banned all avocado exports following a severe shortage of popular varieties, Fuerte and Hass, which were off-season.

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Farmers and traders were intentionally starving the domestic market in favour of the international market resulting in the shortage of the 'new wonder crop' which saw the price of the fruit rise to a three-and-a-half-year high with an avocado in Nairobi's retail markets going selling for between Sh50 and Sh80 up from between Sh10 and Sh20 each during high season.

In March 2018, Kenyan listed company, Kakuzi limited also announced it will stop growing its trademark crop, pineapples after more than two decades of planting the crop and instead adopt fast moving avocados whose demand has skyrocketed globally.

Apart from high demand, Avocados also takes a shorter time to produce compared to Kenya’s traditional cash crops such as coffee which further boosts its appeal.

Agriculture dominates the Kenyan economy, accounting for 70 percent of the workforce and about 25 percent of the annual GDP.

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Email: news@pulselive.co.ke

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