Many people are familiar with Avocado as a fruit, not only in Kenya but it is a common fruit in a number of countries across the globe.
Kenyan households have made avocado part of their daily meal as it is consumed as an accompaniment with quite a lot of other foods including vegetables, ugali, mixed maize and beans (Githeri), rice among others.
Usually, a single medium-sized Avocado at the market goes for 20 shillings and sometimes when the supply is high, it goes for as little as 10 shillings.
This is no longer the case as the fruits are currently being retailed at 50-80 shillings due to low supply and consumers are forced to pay between 30-50 shillings more to enjoy it. The high priced have been linked to the severe drought that hit the country in 2017.
The average price of a 90-kilogram bag of avocado shot up to 2,560 shillings in December, making it the highest cost of the commodity since May 2014, when a bag was selling for slightly above 2,700 shillings.
Avocado business tends to bring in a lot of profits to vendors and exporters but due to its shortage, the Directorate of Horticulture has banned all avocado exports following a severe shortage that has raised prices.
The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), under which the Directorate of Horticulture falls, attributes the increase in the price of the fruit to the biting shortage of popular varieties, Fuerte and Hass, which are the off-season.
According to AFA Director General Alfred Busolo, the Directorate was forced to stop the export of Fuerte and Hass varieties because traders would ship out immature crop because of high demand in the world market.
Busolo, however, noted that they will be lifting the ban starting next month once harvest season kicks off.
“The shortage is not only in Kenya but also globally. This is the reason why the prices have gone up,” added Mr. Busolo. The ban on exports was effected in December.
Mr. Busolo says the shortage is expected to ease starting next month when the new season crop will start hitting the market.
“Fuerte variety will start getting to the market next month while Hass will be in supply in March, bridging the current deficit and reversing prices to the previous lows,” he said.
The Jumbo avocado variety is currently the only one available on the market. This variety is always in supply throughout the year but it is not as popular as Fuerte and Hass.
Avocado contributes seven percent of Kenya’s total fruit export to the global market but production has been static over the years. Farm production stood at 230,948 tonnes in 2015, rising slightly to 246,057 tonnes in 2016.