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Kenya: Farmers look to bonanza from avocado exports
Time: 2011/7/12 11:12:51 -
   Kenyan farmers can benefit more from export of avocado to the growing demand in the European Union (EU) if they increase their current production, a new report released reveals. Kenya and South Africa are the main African exporters of avocados, with South Africa being the second largest supplier to the EU across the world.  "The industry expects demand for avocados in Europe to continue its upward trend in the coming years," said the report released in the capital Nairobi on Monday. The avocado export market intelligence report was done by the Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project that is funded United States Aid Agency (USAID), to increase smallholder farmer incomes through enhanced productivity, crop diversification and improved market access. It said much of the demand in Europe is driven by increased awareness of the fruit and its potential uses and benefits.

It noted that promotional campaigns throughout Europe from producing countries such as South Africa, Chile, Israel, and, most recently, Peru have attempted to raise consumer awareness regarding avocados. Statistics indicate that Kenya's share of avocado exports to EU fell from 8 per cent of the total avocado imports by EU in 2006 to 7 per cent in 2010. Kenya's shipments hovered between 12,000 metric tonnes valued at 17 million U.S. dollars to 15,000 metric tonnes valued at 26 million dollars. South Africa exports increased from 36,008 metric tonnes worth 65 million dollars in 2006 to 47,262 metric tonnes valued at 95 million dollars in 2010, an increase of 31 percent by volume. The report said three EU countries act as hubs or redistribution centers for the avocado trade in Europe, the Netherlands, Spain and France, with France also being the largest consumer in the EU.  

"Growing demand from these countries has resulted in a 23 percent increase in imports by volume since 2006. Further expansion in demand is likely as consumers become educated about the health benefits of avocados," the report noted. In Africa, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon together accounted for 12 percent of world output in 2008. Mexico is by far the worldĄŻs leading avocado producer. In 2008, it accounted for more than one-third of global avocado output, nearly four times more than Chile. Other major producers include Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Spain and the United States. In Kenya, Avocado farming is mostly practiced in Central Kenya and the Rift Valley mostly in tea and coffee growing regions where the crop does well.

It is liked by farmers because it is a long term investment with trees yielding fruits even 30 years after they were planted. But a survey by the Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project the industry including farmers have complained about the requirements some countries are imposing in terms of food safety and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certifications. While meeting GlobalGAP certification is sufficient to export to most EU countries, growers have to bear annual compliance and audit costs when supplying certain supermarket chains utilizing the British Retail Consortium and other private protocols, said the report.
            
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