Is Hass Avocado and Macadamia Farming In Kenya Making Any Sense?

Okay, let’s get serious. We all know the craze that has come with avocado. The other day I saw a friend of mine’s relationship status saying “My relationship status: Avocado”. Needless to say is that even our leaders have joined the craze. Avocado has a way of making everyone happy. Now imagine, avocado combined with macadamia in one farm! Whoa, that’s really nuts huh!
[B]Hass avocado[/B] and [B]macadamia farming[/B] are two crops that farmers are planting ‘without looking at the sun.’ They are perceived to have good returns with ease of management. The demand for these crops has increased all over the world in recent years. Following the poor performance of the maize production especially in the north rift, farmers have been advised to adopt the crops. Further, with the emerging news broke that Kenya might be locked out of the international coffee market due to ever declining production figures, farmers are looking for alternatives for coffee.
The decline of [B]coffee production[/B] is attributed to poor prices and cartels that lockout many indigenous producers from this lucrative business. Let’s leave that story for another day.

In Kenya, farmers have been duped in many cases to engage in projects that have left havoc in their lives. Many have taken up projects with a promise of quick returns but end up with nothing except pain and misery. I remember when many jumped into the quail business. Oh! Boy didn’t many people all over fall head over heels for the business. The lies were evident and many didn’t even bother to do a cost-benefit analysis. There was money to be made. The projects might have worked for some but not for all. Consequently, the quail business was short lived and many would choose to forget this nightmare.

Now we have the macadamia and avocado farming taking shape. Those with the means are now planting the crops, some replacing their coffee trees. Having been part of the new breed of farmers who have planted the macadamia crop for the last one year I could say that the idea is viable. I grew up in central Kenya can attest to how lucrative these trees are. However, it requires high initial investments with calm patience. Once the trees are mature enough to start dropping the nuts, the news afterward is sweet and succulent as the farmer starts collecting money henceforth.

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Let me talk about the one observation I have made and, apparently, the one thing being overlooked. The most important phase in the production of macadamia is the foundation. Right nursery management, holes dimensions, mixture of manure and the soil and planting formula. Popular varieties in Kenya are Murang’a, Kiambu and kirinyaga. For those planting the crop should understand how to intercrop the varieties to facilitate cross-pollination so as to have a good harvest throughout the year.
In Africa Hass and Pinkerton are the most popular exportable avocado varieties. Hass and Fuerte in Kenya have taken the lead.

The most worrying and disturbing issue is the traceability of the mother plant. These varieties are being grafted to reach maturity fast and apparently achieve high productivity. Nurseries are making a killing from the sale of seedlings. Farmers are adopting the new way of doing farming and they have done it by the thousands. Nurseries have sprung up all over. Some have closed down due to various factors. The relevant authorities are doing their best to certify these nurseries by visiting them and ensuring proper production practices. KEPHIS and AFA should be commended for doing a good job.
Traceability of the mother orchard where the scions are being sourced from is very important. Having enough understanding of the production capabilities of the mother tree will serve as an indicator of the kind of tree the seedlings will be. Question is whether the nurseries can guarantee good and better production ability of the trees 5 and so on years down the line. Most nurseries will shy away from answering this question. Where is the mother orchard? Where did you source the scions? For anyone planting the crop it is good to involve an expert who will in return follow up on traceability.

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Planting these crops now is fantastic. 10 years down the line is when the true attributes of the seedlings will be fully manifested. If there were problems then the farmer will have wasted years and resources. Nurseries could compromise and sell the seedling but it would be diligent to assure the farmers that the seedlings are of top quality.
One old farmer said that in the nursery business and I quote “credibility is everything.” Seedlings have no recession and they would produce regardless of the prevailing economic conditions but the foundation is very, very important. As we embrace the new trends in agriculture and agribusiness let us be wise and think of the future. Let not this be another white elephant project.

Where to buy certified hass avocado and macadamia seedlings
You can purchase hass avocado seedlings at Fruit Africa nursery by contacting 0752-452939 or Farmers Trend Nursery via 0724-559286
Published by Bazil Jabuto