If there is a crop that has suddenly become a craze among smallholder farmers in Kenya, it is the avocado plant. With the country producing an estimate of 115,000 metric tonnes of avocado per year, the industry is dominated by the farmers who need an already sustainable market for their produce.
Envisage Limited, a grower and agricultural exporter of fresh produce decided therefore to focus on the avocado value chain to link over 2,500 smallholder avocado farmers from Kenya to already existing markets in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Based in Nairobi, the Global Gap certified company has contracted farmers in different parts of the country to produce quality avocados that meet international standards.
“International markets usually want value for their money. They always offer high price and demand high-quality avocados as compared to the local markets here in Kenya. As a company, we ensure the products we export meet their standards while at the same time raising smallholder farmers’ income,” says Jane Warambo, founder of Envisage Limited.
According to a recent study by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPR), exporting avocados to high-value markets can raise the incomes of smallholder avocado farmers by nearly 39 percent and give better prices for their produce.
Ms Jane explains that the smallholder farmers they have contracted have greatly benefited from the export markets.
“The farmers who participate in the export markets earn more compared to those who don’t. With their earnings, they have managed to acquire more farms, receive more training and own more avocado trees, especially the ones favoured by international markets.”
Although Envisage Limited currently focuses on the avocado value chain, they still supply other quality fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers to retailers in Africa and the Middle East.
Jane says that they are in the entire agricultural value chain but focuses on different produce depending on seasons.
“Our main focus now is avocado, but we still distribute fruits and vegetables. We procure directly from our growers so that we can deliver on our promise of absolute freshness.”
With the government recognizing the potential to increase exports and increase smallholder welfare, Envisage Limited through the AgriBiz programme looks forward to making their company more accessible for farmers.
“We look forward to increasing seedling provision, facilitating training programmes and encouraging innovative contract design to improve the quality of farmers produce,” she says.
In the end, Jane appreciates the Kenya Climate Innovation Center, European Union and Danida for launching the AgriBiz programme and hopes that the programme will help them secure investment for additional capacity to grow and meet the high demand.