Support diversification of crops in west Kenya


Farmers sort through some avocados loaded onto a pickup. FILE  PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

When it comes to agriculture exports, Western Kenya and Nyanza have punched below their weight compared to other regions that are less endowed in terms of land availability and suitable weather for farming.

The collapse of State-owned millers has soured sugar cane farming, which was the backbone of the agriculture sector and largely the economy of the regions.

Despite numerous efforts by the government to jumpstart the millers, the situation remains dire. This is why calls for farmers in the area to diversify their production away from sugar cane to other crops is timely, and could yet revive their economic fortunes.

The initiative by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) to scale up production of avocados in the west of the country is therefore a likely game changer for these farmers, if the example from Central Kenya and Rift Valley is anything to go by.

Avocado exports brought in Sh8.43 billion in the nine months to September 2023, accounting for 84 percent of the country’s total earning from fruit shipments in the period. Given that demand for the fruit is going up globally, with new markets such as China and India coming up, there is room for more farmers to claim a piece of the pie.

Kenya has also developed its horticulture export capacity and supply chains, which should mean that the Western farmers will be moving into a market with lower entry barriers. All that is needed is to ensure that they are supplied with certified seeds, the right information on how to cultivate the crop commercially and support to access the market.

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