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Ugandan cane farmers switching to Hass avocado

Cane farmers switch to Hass avocado   -  
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This is Munu Nyende’s first harvest of avocado after clearing his sugarcane farm for Hass avocado trees three years ago.

Many had cautioned him about his decision. However, with the government’s assurance, he found the courage to grow the fruit whose new popularity around the world is widening its global market.

“There is a shamba which I harvested after about 36 months and obviously you get disappointed. And when you look at avocado and what we read about it because incidentally we have not started harvesting but the prospects are high”. Nyende said

Uganda’s soils and climate favour avocado growing and are considered among the best even compared to the world’s top ten exporters including neighbour Kenya.

According to Africanews correspondent, Raziah Athman, “From one avocado tree that’s about five years old, a farmer can harvest 3000 fruits in a year, that’s about 500 kilograms. And, as direct export, a kilogram is sold at $2. That compared to a cane farm of the same size means that the avocado farmer is earning six times more but experts say sufficient export volume needs at least 10,000 more farmers to grow the fruit”.

Munu Nyende’s is not the only in this field of farming. Ali Kibwika Muyinda says even as it picks up, those willing to venture into Hass are treading carefully. Ali Kibwika Muyinda is part of an initiative working with a nucleus avocado farm in the eastern region.

“I wouldn’t say switching to avocado is a gamble, I think it should be the thing”. Ali said

The government says the idea is not to replace sugarcane but grow the list of strategic crops.

“Our intention is to have Hass avocado for export, but also have value-addition because vegetable oil is extracted from Hass avocado so the nucleus farmer will act as the off-taker, the buyer from the grass root farmers in the sub-counties but also act as a value adder”. Bwino Fred Kyakulaga - minister of state for agriculture

In 2021, avocado exports totalled $7 billion, a figure Uganda hopes it can tap into if more farmers embrace avocado.

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