A mature avocado should have at least 80% moisture content and 10% oil content. Maturity testing has greatly helped to improve the quality of rubber balls by reducing the chances of having rubber balls that do not ripen.
Avocado production at Kakuzi has been increasing every year. Kakuzi produces, pack,s and export avocados to the global market. The current avocado production is 700 hectares and are moving steadily to 1200 hectares as per their plans.
“Our Avocado production has been increasing every year. The global market for Kenyan Avocados has also grown and we are targeting to increase production to meet the high demand. We are at 700 hectares of Avocados and are steadily moving to 1200 hectares,” Dr. Wilso Odiyo, Assistant General Manager of Corporate Affairs.
Kakuzi exports its avocados to the global market like France, United States, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The market has expanded and they are currently exporting to 14 more countries.
Avocados are harvested and delivered to the packhouse. To ensure Avocados are ready for harvest, they do maturity testing. A mature avocado should have at least 80% moisture content and 10% oil content. Maturity testing has greatly helped to improve the quality of rubber balls by reducing the chances of having rubber balls that do not ripen. In the Packhouse avocados are washed, disinfected, graded, and packed.
Washing and disinfection are done to ensure there are no fungi or infections on the outer surface of the Avocado. Health measures are highly observed at the packhouse and the produce is good for public consumption. Grading of different sizes is done to remove those scorched by the sun, small ones, and any that is affected by pesticides.
Once grading is done, they are packed in cartons of 4Kgs and 10Kgs depending on the orders made. They are stored in the ice-cold rooms at a temperature of 6% ready for export. In preparation for the increased production of avocados, they have expanded storage to 16 ice-cold rooms. They are transported to the port ready for shipping to the global market.
When there is full production which is year seven moving onwards, Kakuzi does the pruning. Recently they started reducing the height of Avocado trees to make it easier to spray and treat and harvest the produce. This will not affect the production of Avocadoes but has benefits.
Avocado growth has increased in the country and more farmers have embraced it. Kakuzi has been supporting subsistence farmers to produce high quality avocados. Kakuzi offers farmers with hass seedlings and also provides training on avocado growing. Every season they send agricultural officers to farmers to do maturity tests. This has made Kenya to be known for high quality Avocados in the global market. In Addition, they have registered more than 3000 farmers who supply avocado produce and they provide the market. Kakuzi holds an open day for farmers annually.
Kakuzi is supporting small-scale farmers to produce quality avocados to complement its production capacities and boost the global positioning of Kenyan avocados.
“The global market is responding positively to Kenyan avocados due to their high potential to provide good quality fruits but, we must work tirelessly to secure this market positioning by focusing on the quality aspects,” Kakuzi Chairman Ng’ang’a said. He added that “to secure this market positioning, Kakuzi will step up its effort to strengthen the capacity of our smallholders to meet the stringent quality and standards required at the global markets.”
The neighboring community in Murang’a county has greatly benefited from Kakuzi’s initiative to support small-scale farmers. They have also extended their training programs in Kiambu, Embu, Kirinyaga counties.
Kakuzi has created employment opportunities for more than 2500 Kenyans. They have more than 18 villages with modern houses where workers reside.
By Frank Waruhiu