The current local market prices for a 90-kilogram bag of avocado in selected markets across the country are as follows: 4,000 shillings in Mombasa, 2,600 shillings in Loitoktok, 2,200 shillings in Nairobi, 2,100 shillings in Eldoret, 2,000 shillings in Nakuru and 800 shillings in Kitale.
Avocado farming has increasingly been adopted in recent years by Kenyan farmers, especially smallholder farmers who account to over 70 percent of the total production.
The high uptake of avocado by these farmers has been linked to the huge profitability especially from the international markets together with the global awareness of its health benefits.
Kenyan farmers are growing more and more Avocadoes to not only meet the local demand but that of the European market too 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.
It has been estimated that Kenya produces 115,000 metric tons of avocado annually, three-quarters of which end up in expanding export markets.
Kenya earned 6.5 billion shillings and 5.2 billion shillings in 2016 and 2015 from avocado exports respectively, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
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 percent of Kenya’s total horticultural exports.
Kenya is the world’s sixth largest exporter of avocados with three percent of the world’s total and Africa’s second biggest after South Africa.
Early this year, the government banned all avocado exports following a severe shortage of popular varieties, Fuerte and Hass, which were the off-season.
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 50 shillings and 80 shillings up from between 10 shillings and 20 shillings each during high season.
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.
The main varieties grown in Kenya is a local variety, known as “Kienyeji”, Fuerte variety and Hass variety. The Pinkerton avocado cultivar is also grown in Kenya although in way smaller quantities.
The main areas where avocados are grown in Kenya are the central highlands of Thika, Muranga, Nyeri, Embu and Meru areas. Other areas include Eldoret, Kisii, Subukia, Nakuru, and Naivasha.