AUTHOR Faith Ikade
Data from the Directorate of Horticulture and the Avocado Society of Kenya shows Kenyan avocado exports hit a record high in the first half of 2020.
Based on the report, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic created an avenue for Kenya to export more than 58,400 tonnes sold to 42 countries, topping the total quantity sold in 2019.
Ernest Muthomi, Chief Executive of the Avocado Society of Kenya says the country earned more than Sh8 billion from the exports. According to Mr Muthomi, there has been a growing demand for the fruit during the pandemic, due to its high alkaline content.
“The high export numbers can also be attributed to an increase in avocado acreage and quality of the fruit being produced by our farmers. We are excited by the prospects of rising demand for the fruit,” Mr Muthomi said.
In highlighting distribution hubs, Mr Muthomi identified Netherlands as the lead importer of Kenyan avocados with 16.3 million kilogrammes bought by June.
Other top importers include Spain with 7.5 million kilogrammes, UAE (5.8 million kilogrammes), Russia (5.4 million kilogrammes), France (4.7 million kilogrammes) and Belgium (4.6 million kilogrammes).
In the last six months, Kenya exported 45, 737 tonnes of avocado to the European market. The average price of a four-kilogramme pack of avocados is Sh350 and is expected to hit Sh450 as supply in other parts of the world declines.
Kenya is ranked among the fastest growing avocado exporters in the world. It is the world’s third largest producer of avocados and Kenya’s leading fruit export, accounting for nearly one-fifth of its total horticultural exports.
Avocado is grown in several parts of Kenya and about 70 percent of avocado production is by small-scale growers. It is mainly grown for subsistence, local markets, and export purposes.
Despite the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the avocado industry has generated revenue for Kenya as it struggles to maintain the economy.
It is therefore advisable that the government focus on sustaining the smallholder farmers and invest more in the sector as the country adapts to the new normal.