Avocado farming has become a profitable venture for smallholder farmers in Kenya, thanks to increasing demand for the fruit in both local and export markets.
Maturity testing: Key to improving post-harvest losses in avocado farming
Avocado farming has become a profitable venture for smallholder farmers, but high post-harvest losses make it difficult for farmers to reap maximum benefits
However, the high post-harvest losses experienced in the industry have made it difficult for farmers to reap maximum benefits from their avocado crops.
One way to minimize post-harvest losses is through proper harvest timing, where maturity testing comes in. Maturity testing is critical in determining when avocados are ready for harvest.
Why maturity testing is important
Avocados should be harvested when they reach maturity, determined by a minimum dry matter standard of 24 per cent.
Harvesting avocados at this recommended stage of maturity reduces the fruit's susceptibility to mesocarp bruising.
Harvesting the fruit before it reaches maturity results in poor fruit quality, such as a grassy aftertaste, watery or rubbery texture, and lack of flavour.
Benefits of free maturity testing services
According to Kakuzi Plc Managing Director Mr Christopher Flowers, the free maturity testing services would guide local farmers wishing to harvest their avocado fruit crops.
These testing services can help minimize post-harvest losses while enhancing technical skills.
The difficulty of determining maturity
Determining the exact stage of maturity during the growth and development of avocado fruit is difficult because the fruit does not exhibit obvious characteristics that could suggest the optimum state of readiness for harvest.
Moreover, avocado fruit maturity will not improve after picking, so the fruit must reach the required marketing preferences before harvest.
Kakuzi's free maturity testing services
Kakuzi Plc, a listed grower and exporter of superfoods, has announced that it will provide free maturity testing services for local smallholder avocado farmers during the new avocado harvesting season.
The announcement came after the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) declared that the 2023 avocado harvesting season would begin on March 24th, 2023, with maturity parameter details.
It will provide preharvest maturity testing services at its FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management Systems certified Kakuzi Avocado Processing and Packhouse facility near Makuyu town.
The laboratory-based testing services will be provided to smallholder farmers as part of a national quality assurance commitment. The farmers will receive detailed pre-harvest reports on the quality and maturity of their fruit samples.
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