A report has revealed that due to high global demand, avocado farmers in East Africa and Nigeria want to enter the insatiable export market.
This is evident in Baker Ssengendo’s vision for the future of Uganda which starts with an avocado seedling.
Baker told DW that “The avocado tree has a lifespan of about 50 years. The life expectancy of an average Ugandan is about 60 years. A tree can benefit them their entire life”.
According to the paper, Ssengendo works on the 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of Musubi Farm in Mayuge district, eastern Uganda — the largest Hass avocado farm in the country.
He said “By working in avocado farming, I am fulfilling my life dream. We want to lift our communities out of poverty.”
Records have it that Avocado’s consumption per capita increased by 406% between 1990 and 2017 in the US alone – it has become a lucrative export product.
It was projected that the so-called green gold is rapidly gaining popularity on the African continent and Nigeria and Uganda aim to drastically increase their avocado production and become top exporters in the next decade. It should be noted that Kenya is already among the global top 10. Reports said export revenues in the East African country increased by a third between 2019 and 2020. It was gathered that farmers are hailing the crop as an antidote to poverty in rural areas.
However, the sought-after fruit has been making negative headlines around the world with some setbacks which include water shortages and the destruction of biodiversity linked to its production. Also, environmental issues have cast a dark shadow over the commercial farming of avocados in Latin America’s top exporting countries, such as Mexico and Chile, reports said.
Nevertheless, farmers and scientists have averred that African avocado farming is promising a brighter future. Due to an emphasis on smallholders and beneficial rain patterns, the crop’s production is expected to be less environmentally harmful than on the American continent, reports said.
Harping on the green gold, Sammy Carsan, agroforestry scientist said “Avocado is actually a godsend because farmers can use it as an alternative to coffee farming”.
It would be recalled that former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo called the fruit “the new oil of Nigeria” during a meeting with members of the Avocado Society of Nigeria (ASN) late last year, The Guardian Newspaper reported. It is important to note that Obasanjo, an avocado-enthusiast is the largest stakeholder in the society and owns 20 hectares of Hass avocado farming land himself — the avocado variety most commonly used for exports.
“He gave us the mandate of making the country Africa’s largest avocado exporter by 2030,” Adeniyi Sola Bunmi, executive director of ASN, told DW.
It was gathered that currently, there are only 120 Hass avocado farmers in Nigeria.
It can be recalled that Uganda’s Agriculture Ministry recently partnered with Musubi Farm, hoping to start commercial export next year. Musubi is already employing 1,000 people from the local community.
Ssengendo, the director of communications said “We are also financially supporting a local school and are providing land for a local police force in order to deal with crime in the community. Avocados can transform our community”.