Kakuzi’s free maturity testing aid for avocado farmers

As the avocado export season draws closer, fruit exporter Kakuzi PLC is stepping up to support small-scale farmers with the crucial maturity testing service to guarantee growers better returns in the market.

The company has announced that it will offer free avocado maturity testing to smallholder farmers starting next week, ensuring their produce meets regulatory and market requirements.

This initiative, according to Kakuzi PLC Managing Director Chris Flowers, aims to enhance the quality and compliance of avocados from source farms in the Mt Kenya region and other regions across Kenya.

Scheduled to begin next week, the free testing services will be conducted at Kakuzi’s FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management Systems certified Avocado Processing and Packhouse in Makuyu town.

This move comes in anticipation of the Agriculture and Food Authority’s opening of the avocado export season on March 1, 2024.

“Kenya currently enjoys a favourable international market position for quality avocado production, and this status needs to be jealously guarded by ensuring phytosanitary, environmental, social, and governance standards are strictly maintained,” stated Kakuzi MD Chris Flowers, highlighting the importance of maintaining high standards in avocado production.

To uphold these standards, Kakuzi has already conducted internal maturity testing at its Quality Control Room, ensuring compliance with GlobalGAP certification.

Read also: Sweet victory: 16% pay boost for over 3,000 Kakuzi workers

Regulatory guidelines

The company plans to commence its HASS avocado harvests in adherence to regulatory guidelines.

In line with regulations, all avocado export produce will be subject to inspection by AFA-HCD inspectors. Exporters must apply for inspection at least three days before shipment and submit a list of their Horticultural Produce Marketing Agents (HPMA) or suppliers for product traceability.

The directives also emphasize the importance of proper transportation, stating that exporters found transporting avocados without crates or on open vehicles contrary to regulations will be penalized.

With these measures in place, Kakuzi PLC and the agricultural sector are poised to maintain Kenya’s reputation as a reliable supplier of high-quality avocados on the international market.

In the half-year 2023, Kakuzi said avocado profits have more than doubled to Kes654.8 million owing to rising exports to Europe and China. In their update last August, Kakuzi said further avocado business growth is expected in the year’s second half as exports to Malaysia and India begin.

The company, however, suffered as macadamia glut persisted, leading to a Kes329 million sectoral loss for the nuts business.

Avocado farming in Kenya

Data shows that as of June 2020, Kenya had exported over 58 million kilograms of avocados to various countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Hong Kong, Qatar, Morocco, South Africa, and the European Union, with a total valuation of approximately Kes8 billion.

The acreage dedicated to avocado farming in Kenya has shown steady growth, increasing from 13,305 hectares in 2015 to 20,000 hectares by 2017.

Hass avocados variety, which are popular in the export market, are primarily cultivated in the Nyeri, Kiambu, Meru, and Kisii counties, with the entire Mt. Kenya region being conducive to avocado growth due to its favorable climatic conditions.

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