Rampant harvesting of premature avocados may prompt international buyers to shun fruits from Kenya. Immature avocados have often been rejected or fetch meager prices in the international markets and even forcing buyers to get alternatives from other countries.
Avocado Society of Kenya Chief Executive Officer Alex Muthomi said Kenyan avocados are known to be the best but harvesting of immature fruits is ruining the reputation.
Speaking during an avocado conference and exhibition held at Murang’a University of Technology last Friday, Muthomi underscored the need for thorough sensitisation and training of farmers to ensure they only harvest mature avocados which meet export standards.
International demand, he added, is quite high, adding that quick money is pushing farmers to harvest avocados which are not ready. “In the European market where our avocados are traded, sometimes buyers opt to buy from other countries when they find out fruits are not mature,” he said.
Muthomi castigated some exporters who get the fruit crop from farmers without considering maturity of the fruits, saying instead of the avocados ripening, they darken and rot, leading to big losses.
He said the society will embark on educating its 8,000 members and 81 traders to ensure only mature avocados are harvested.
Muthomi said they will also encourage more farmers to venture into avocado farming, adding that there is a big international market, especially after China expressed interest to purchase Kenyan avocados.
Among the avocado producing counties, Murang’a is leading with 57 per cent in production of mostly traded Hass and Fuete varieties.
Kakuzi Ltd Commercial Manager Paul Mbugua said harvesting of hass avocados should not be done before March while that of pinkerton variety should be done from February of every year.