Hope for avocado farmers as Kisii county signs deal with investor

The Kisii county government on Tuesday signed a deal with a private investor to start operations of avocados processing plant.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae and deputy British High Commissioner Julius Court witnessed the signing of the deal between the county and Avo Fresh.

Finance executive Moses Onderi and Avo Fresh director Fernando Marques signed the memorandum of understanding and lease agreement at the Agricultural Training Centre in Kisii town.

During the function, Governor James Ongwae and Court flagged off five lorries that will be used to collect avocados from centres to the plant for processing.

The plant will process cooking oil and cosmetics, among other products. It’s expected to start working in September once the machines are installed.

The project is being implemented by the county with the support from UK Aid through the Sustainable Economic Development Programme.

Court praised Ongwae for his leadership which has seen the project’s launch.

“I want to congratulate and salute you for your leadership, especially on the issues we work on. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to come back to witness the launch of anchor investment of the SUED project,” Court said.

Governor Ongwae and Marques said the plant, once in operation, will process up to 100 tonnes of avocados in a day.

“I want to assure farmers that we will engage in fair trade so that we boost their earnings. We will be in Kisii for many years,” Marques said.

Already, the investor has set up aggregation centres in the nine subcounties and, with support from UK Aid, has acquired five trucks to facilitate transportation of the fruit

“In terms of pricing and supply of the raw materials, the investor will enter into an agreement with the farmers, in a process that will be overseen by the department of agriculture,” Ongwae said.

He added that the avocado value chain directly impacts 269,683 farmers, 648 individuals involved in collection and more than 100 wholesalers.

“I know the current world prices for the avocado fruit are very attractive and urge you to give the farmers the best possible price,” the governor said.

“This is a way of improving their livelihoods through a fair value chain and as a motivation to our farmers to expand avocado trees at the farm level.”

Ongwae said the county has made a deliberate effort to commercialise avocado farming.

 “With a continuous supply of the hass variety seedlings to our farmers across the 45 wards, we have managed to boost the number of trees to 809,049, in an average of 1, 600 hectares of land,” he said.

“Between 2014 and 2021, we supplied a total of 300,000 hass avocado seedlings.”

Currently, there are 34 major wholesalers of avocado in the county who export about 80 tonnes of fruit per day, with the peak seasons being between March and October.

The major varieties of avocado grown in Kisii are the Kisii Landraces- 70 per cent, Hass 20 per cent and Fuerte 10 per cent.

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