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In Western Kenya, a groundbreaking initiative led by the Bungoma Avocado Farmers Association (BAFA) aims to transform the agricultural landscape. The organization, in collaboration with the Bungoma County government and various partners, is encouraging farmers to transition from traditional mixed farming and maize production to the lucrative world of avocado farming. This article explores the strategic plan, recent developments, and the immense potential of avocado farming in Western Kenya, providing the latest data and insights to inspire farmers, agronomists, agricultural engineers, farm owners, and scientists in the field of agriculture.
Avocado Farming in Western Kenya: A Green Revolution
Western Kenya is undergoing a transformative agricultural revolution as the Bungoma Avocado Farmers Association (BAFA) unveils a visionary five-year strategic plan. The initiative aims to boost avocado production across the entire region, urging farmers to shift their focus from mixed farming and maize cultivation to avocado farming. According to John Ndengwa, Chairman of BAFA, this shift is driven by the high market demand for avocados.
Ndengwa emphasizes that Bungoma’s climate is conducive to avocado cultivation, making it an ideal choice for local farmers. To facilitate this transition, BAFA is collaborating with the Bungoma County government and other organizations to engage a whopping 30,000 farmers in avocado production. Notably, avocado farming requires minimal land, making it accessible to smallholder farmers.
The Rise of Avocado in Kenya
Recent data highlights the growing interest in avocado farming among Kenyan farmers. The area dedicated to avocado cultivation increased from 13,305 hectares in 2015 to over 20,000 hectares in 2020. This significant expansion signifies the country’s evolving agricultural landscape.
Avocado, often referred to as “green gold,” has the potential to transform the fortunes of Kenyan farmers. In 2020 alone, Kenya produced over 322 metric tonnes of avocados, making it the sixth-largest global producer, trailing behind Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Indonesia. Over the past decade, avocado production in Kenya has surged by 116 percent, illustrating its tremendous growth on the global stage.
Kenya also stands out as a key avocado exporter. In 2021, it ranked as the eighth-largest avocado exporter worldwide, with exports valued at approximately $140 million. Remarkably, Kenya leads the African avocado export market, slightly ahead of South Africa.
Unlocking Opportunities in Avocado Farming
In Bungoma, the initiative includes primary cooperatives that provide interested farmers with subsidized avocado seedlings. Additionally, BAFA has developed integrated pest management systems to support avocado cultivation.
David Shivonje, the horticultural crops development officer for Bungoma County, encourages farmers to view avocado farming as a viable business opportunity. He highlights the diverse nutritional value of avocados and their growing prominence in the export market. The county is committed to nurturing the entire value chain of avocado production, from cultivation to marketing.
The launch of the five-year strategic plan by BAFA and its partners signals a promising future for avocado farming in Western Kenya. With favorable climatic conditions and the increasing global demand for avocados, this agricultural shift promises higher incomes and economic growth for the region. Avocado farming represents a golden opportunity for smallholder farmers, and the data supports its potential as a game-changer in Kenyan agriculture.