Farmers set to gain from Sh400m avocado factory
Posted Monday, March 19 2012 at 18:50
Farmers in Central Province are expected to benefit from a multi-million-shilling avocado processing factory that is under construction in Murang’a County.
The Alivando group of companies will fund the more than Sh400 million investment, which will take between two and three years to complete.
A pilot factory has been set up and has started buying the fruit from farmers who have began to cultivate the crop again after they gave up due to poor earnings in the past.
Alivando chief executive Gary Hannan said that the company had engaged farmers in various parts of the province to improve production of avocado.
He said that the firm had also contracted and trained 1,030 farmers to grow high quality avocado.
The factory produces avocado oil, which is sold in the domestic and export markets where the demand is higher than the current production.
The oil is mainly exported to the UK, Belgium, France, Holland, Russia and Germany and Asia.
“In those countries, there is a high demand for avocado oil,” Mr Hannan said. “We realised that ferrying avocados is expensive but with a local factory, we will minimise the cost as well as favour the farmers.”
The new facility is expected to boost avocado earnings through value addition and benefit farmers.
He said middlemen had been exploiting farmers and promised that the factory would be paying them for their fruit three month before harvest.
He said the region is better placed to produce high quality avocado products noting that those grown in hot, humid climates have saturated fat and too much wax for oil production.
“To meet demand, Alivado needs upwards of 750,000 litres monthly. In the next five years, Kenya should be able to of produce 0.3 million litres of high quality avocado oil monthly for export and local consumption if farmers embrace the practice” he said.
Simon Ngang’a King’ara of Ruiru Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who is also an avocado farmer, said that the factory will offer them better earnings compared to middlemen.
Stephen Gikonyo from Murang’a County said: “ Middlemen buy an avocado fruit from farmers for Sh1 while it costs Sh10 in other countries. This is exploitation, which can be changed to help farmers earn a lot.”
Mr King’ara, who has a plantation with 7,000 avocado trees, said that the factory pays Sh150 for a kilogramme of avocado fruit while the middlemen buy at Sh80.