Kenya’s Avocado Boom Presents a Rising Star in the Green Economy

June 9, 2024 0


Kenya’s newest champion is a delicious creamy fruit: the avocado, which is rapidly climbing the export charts, making Kenya the undisputed avocado king of Africa, and a strong contender globally.

Europe’s already a fan, and Kenya’s setting its sights on massive markets like India and China. While Mexico remains the undisputed leader, Kenya’s exports skyrocketed by a whopping 24% last year – the highest growth among major producers.

Kenya’s got a natural advantage. Perfect growing conditions exist between 1,500 and 2,100 meters above sea level, and luckily, that’s where much of the Kenyan landscape sits. Sustainability is another win. Abundant rainfall in the highlands means most farms don’t need extra water, except during the dry season. Even then, water usage is incredibly efficient, with some farms using less than 100 liters per kilogram of avocado – way below the global average. Plus, year-round equatorial sunshine allows the avocados to “grow by day and sleep at night,” as one industry insider playfully puts it.

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Kenya also has a lucky harvest window. Their avocados hit the market before many competitors’, giving them a head start. Some regions even enjoy double harvests thanks to two rainy seasons, extending their selling period. Savvy small-scale farmers are jumping on board too, as well-maintained avocado trees start producing decent yields within a few years.

Labor costs are another factor in Kenya’s favor. While wages are lower than some competitors, some larger Kenyan growers offer above-average pay. And for consumers, the price difference is stark. A ripe avocado in a Kenyan market can be found for mere pennies, while a single fruit in European supermarkets might cost several dollars, depending on the season.

Demand is on the rise too. While the US devours a massive chunk of global imports, Europe’s love affair with the avocado is blossoming as well. Last year, Germans and Poles saw their avocado consumption increase by 10% and 24% respectively.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. Maintaining high standards for quality, traceability, and sustainability is crucial, as every exported avocado represents Kenya’s reputation. In the past, there have been concerns about unripe avocados reaching the market. The agricultural authorities even intervened last year to prevent exports from some smallholders who lacked proper storage and irrigation techniques.

Shipping also presents challenges. Precise temperature control is essential, and with the Red Sea currently unavailable due to regional conflicts, the longer route around South Africa adds both cost and risk of spoilage.

Despite these hurdles, Kenya is not only a leader in renewable energy, but also a champion of a different kind of green economy – one fueled by delicious avocados.


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