Avocado in East Africa: Boosting Farmers Capacity for The Global Market

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Agricultural activities (farming, processing of farm products etc.) are always a necessity for any nation that wants to be able to properly feed its people. If these activities are properly harnessed, it can contribute generously to the GDP of the country.

Sadly, many African countries have not developed the value chain and are still reliant on outdated farming methods. In Europe agribusiness contributes greatly to their GDP.

It has become much more important for improved farm inputs and technologies are needed to shift from subsistence to a large-scale production for Africa to have food security and become a major player in agricultural exports.

Avocado Production Capacity In Tanzania

On the global scale, Mexico is the world’s highest producer of avocado as it is native to them and to other parts of Central America. In 2019, the country harvested some 2.3 million tons of avocados. They are closely followed by the Dominican Republic, Peru and Indonesia.

Kenya which is 7th on the global scale is Africa’s highest producer of avocado with Malawi, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo coming second, third and fourth respectively. Currently, even in Africa Tanzania are rather minnows in this area but the prospects are good for them.

Report from the Tanzanian Horticultural Association shows a major increase in avocado exports in the country, such that it generated a revenue of about $12 million in the year 2020. This value is from the export of about 9000 tonnes in the 2019 report which is a significant increase when compared with 1,877 tonnes exported in 2014.

Now this is some progress considering that 10 years ago, the country wasn’t even exporting avocado at all. However, in a country where 80% of its population identify as agricultural workers, a lot more can be done. The good news is that the government seems very willing to facilitate this as there is a plan to increase avocado export by 380% in the next five years.

One critical area that has to be worked on to further boost market chances is in the area of the quality control methods. Farmers need to be taught best agricultural practices to reduce spoilage and barriers to modernized farming equipment to meet market demands for Avocado.

Farmers And New Market Opportunities

Interest in avocado farming and its potential export is becoming quite popular among the local farmers. This is because there is a global increase in the demand and prices of avocados thus, for the local farmer, there is an incentive to join up.

Currently, the majority (about 85%) of avocado exporters in Tanzania export to countries in the European union. While the aim is to increase exports to these countries, there is also a push to break into new markets.

Of all the markets available, the Chinese market has the most potential. This is because, the data on China’s avocado import shows that avocado imports into China annually is valued at about $105 million. For this reason, Tanzania’s agricultural minister is trying to reach an agreement with China so as to enable Tanzanian farmers to have access to the Chinese market.

How Is Kenya Doing It?

As has been stated before, Kenya is the number one avocado exporter in the continent. It wasn’t always so as South Africa once held that position. Now however, they are number one in Africa by a mile and are not letting up.

The question now is; how was this achieved? And are there lessons that other African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and others with the potential to do well in this area of agriculture can learn from Kenya?

The Kenyan economy is mostly sustained by agro products and its exportation to other parts of the world as the majority of its population are employed in the agricultural sector. Thus, the country already has an agricultural orientation.

With the increase in the demand for avocado worldwide, some farmers initially got involved and made good profits which attracted more farmers to switch to avocado farming. The economic incentive and huge market demand in avocados have led to a shift from coffee farming which was more predominant in the country.

The Kenyan Government has also been smart in this area as it has reached trade agreements with various countries such that Kenya now exports to countries like Italy, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. They also recently entered into agreement with China and exports are definitely going to increase tremendously to meet the supply demands.

What Can Other African Countries Learn?

1.       Encourage Agricultural Activities through policy: This essentially is where to start especially in countries like Nigeria and Ghana where many people have no interest in agriculture.

2.       Give Incentives to Small Holder Farmers: Sadly, many farmers in Africa who have the interest to engage in this type of farming lack the capacity to do so. Funds and support initiatives should be started to help such farmers.

3.       Farmer Education: A lot of African farmers are not aware of the modern methods needed to boost yields and to increase the quality of their crops.

4.       Make Them Know That It Is Profitable: The primary reason why many Kenyan farmers have started venturing into avocado production is because they found out that it is highly profitable. Many now make millions from it. The same consciousness should be brought to other farmers in other African countries.


As it stands now, Mexico is already number one in the world for avocado production and exportation. And in the United States and Canada, they have countries that they already have pacts with.

With proper planning, policy implementation and bi-lateral trade agreements, Avocado producing countries in Africa can become major players in the global fruits market.

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