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Is Hass Avocado farming worth it?

Hass avocado prices has steadily risen over the years to become a hero crop for many farmers not just in Kenya but around the world.

2021 is going to be an exciting and dynamic year for investments in agriculture and related businesses. Since food is one of man’s most important needs, demand for agricultural products in Kenya and around the world will always be strong. As an entrepreneur, you can capitalize on this demand by establishing an agribusiness venture and amassing enormous wealth.

Agriculture presents endless opportunities for young people who are looking to earn or expand their sources of income. While this is true, we need to identify the right farming ventures which will give you higher returns and have a low money loss risk.

Hass Avocado for Export

Hass avocado is a big deal in the international market. It has steadily risen over the years to become a hero crop for many farmers not just in Kenya but around the world. It is highly sought for by exporters due to its high returns.

Avocados are appreciated because it is a unique and healthy product (oleaginous or oil containing fruit) with many culinary applications. The consumption of avocados in Europe has grown on average by 8% in three years (2017-2019) and the consumption in 2019-20 was 73% higher compared to 2015-2016. Scandinavia has the highest consumption rate per capita, but the recent growth is most notable in countries where consumption is still relatively low such as Germany, Italy, and Eastern Europe.

Avocado has been the most dynamic fruit in the past years, characterized by insatiable demand and an unbalanced supply. Europe is also able to absorb more avocados. This happened during the production peak in 2018 and will likely happen again when soon looking back at 2020.

Avocado orchards margins are secured by high barriers to entry into the business. It takes 3 years for a farm to yield its first harvest, and 6 years to achieve maturity. Furthermore, there is a limited supply due to a scarcity of fertile avocado-growing areas. While demand for avocados is increasing, supply cannot keep up, resulting in price increases. This is one of the main reasons avocado farming will continue to be profitable in the years to come.

It is also worth noting that during the ongoing COVID 19 crisis (2020), income from avocado orchard investments has remained steady, as avocado revenues are less vulnerable to supply chain disturbances. Furthermore, since governments prioritize food security, it is likely that income from avocado orchards will remain stable during current and future possible outbreaks.

So how do we grow Hass Avocadoes?

Step 1: Land Preparation

Avocados like well-drained soils. This means if your land has some sort of waterlogging then you will need to make a raised bed for your crop. This you will figure out with the help of your extension officer.

Image Source: Agrilinks

With this out of the way, you will need a tractor and a plow. Your farm will require rigorous plowing to make your soil nice and soft. Plow it with one heart. Kazi safi. Plow your land 2-3 months before growing Avocadoes.

Once your farm is all set, it’s time for hole measurements. Buy a long rope from your local hardware as part of your arsenal. Choose the desired spacing you like and get to work. You can do spacing of 6m-5m, 6-9m, or 7-10m. Spacing depends on the growth characteristic of the individual variety and the type of soil, fertility status, agro-ecological conditions, and agronomic practices. The size of the hole should be 60cm x 60cm ( 2 Feet x 2 Feet). Take note of where topsoil goes while digging your holes. You will need it later. Mark all holes first before digging. This will help you get uniformity and not mess up.

Mix the topsoil and 2 DEBES of well-decomposed manure and a handful of NPK (20:10:10). Empty your soil mixture into the hole and mark it for reference.

Of course, you will need to do a soil test before starting all this. Soil testing will inform you of any deficiencies or excesses, if any, of minerals in your soil. They also advise on the correct type and amount of fertilizer to apply. We wrote an article a while back explaining the importance of soil testing, please check it out. Also, check them out for signs of pests and diseases. If you spot them just excuse yourself.

Look at the roots too – A poor root system will produce a weak plant so checking the condition of the roots pre-purchase is an insurance policy. The soil around well-formed root balls will not fall away but the soil will fall away in immature seedlings.

Step 2: Choose Healthy Seedlings

Save your tears by choosing the right Hass avocado seedlings for your farm. A healthy plant can produce a lot of new growth. Hass avocadoes should have healthy-looking green leaves. If the leaves are pale, don’t buy the seedling. Plants with yellowing or grey leaves, or leaves that are brown and dry around the margins, should be avoided.

Young Hass Avocado Seedling

Step 2: Transplanting Avocado Seedlings

Don’t transplant when you don’t have water on the farm. The water should be in large quantities. Don’t get into a rush and risk. Avocado seedlings are expensive. One seedling goes between Ksh 150 – Ksh 350 depending on the Nursery company. Rushing this step can cost you a lot of money that will end in tears.

The rule of thumb is to transplant during the start of the rainy season. In Kenya is at the end of April. Growing at the onset of rains will enable your avocadoes to establish themselves well on the farm. This is free irrigation. Make use of it.

A farm in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

Get a Jembe or Shovel and insert your Hass avocado tree into the hole you had prepared earlier.

Rule: Never plant any seedling deeper than the soil level it was in while in the polythene bag that came with it.

Point to Note: Farm­ers should intercrop Hass and Fuerte avo­cadoes to im­prove cross pol­lin­a­tion and boost avocado yields. 10% of your farm should have Fuerte avocadoes.

That’s it. You are all done. Ensure your plants get water every day. Irrigate at least 10 Liters of water per tree per day.

As the tree grows you will need to maintain it by doing the following:

  • Top Dressing
  • Pruning Branches
  • Pest and Fungicide Control
Source: KALRO

Step 3: The Journey to Harvesting

The journey will be exciting. All farmers in Kenya who take up Hass avocado farming as a profitable venture have the same look of joy every time they visit their farms. Growing a tree is quite simple compared to handling short-term crops and this is always evident on their faces. Considering management is fairly easy and the market is assured.

The main harvesting season of Avocados in Kenya is from March to September.

if you follow all the recommended conditions required you will get between 3.2 – 4.0 tons per acre per year (translating to 250 – 300 kg per tree per year) from the 5th year. Bits of harvesting start from the 2nd year moving forward but the yield will be low (10-20Kg per tree). Your true income will be achieved from the 4th year onwards. Basically, the tree yield increases each year like one big domino effect. The more land you have under Hass avocado farming, the better you will be.

1KG of Avocado for export now stands at Ksh 60- Ksh 100. Different buyers have different prices. Do the math and enjoy fantasizing 🙂

Parting Shot: I strongly recommend farm visits, market research (not just googling information but visiting actual buyers, making calls, etc. to get the right information. The best way to get started in agriculture is to find and learn from people who are already involved in it.

The insight you acquire from firsthand experience far outweighs everything you can learn from any article. The prices listed in this article are approximate; they differ depending on the time and place, but they should give you a good idea of what to expect.

References

  1. “Avocado Cultivation,” KALRO, accessed April 2018,
  2. “The European market potential for avocados” Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, ” accessed 6 January 2021, https://www.cbi.eu/market-information/fresh-fruit-vegetables/avocados/market-potential.
  3. “Avocado Production,” SHEP PLUS.

 

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Joseph Boit

Joseph is a social entrepreneur with a curious mind and love for farming. Big dreamer and a technology enthusiast.

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4 Comments

  1. Hello Graduate Farmer. I find this a great platform. I know there are people with land, but no idea about farming. And there are people who and knowledgable in farming and would like to farm, but have no piece of land. Is it possible to connect the two parties through this platform? TJ

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