Farmer abandons tea for avocados

Gabriel Muteshi, (right) with Sammy Shiroko (left) at a Hass avocado farm in the Luvambo region of Shinyalu sub-county on September 30, 2021. [Nathan Ochunge Standard]

After suffering huge losses in tea cultivation, Gabriel Muteshi, an electrical engineer, began to think about venturing into other cultures.

The prices offered by the tea companies were degrading and you had to wait a long time to get paid.

“Growing tea was not economically viable and there was no need to stay in the business. I cleared my three acre farm, planted corn and beans with horticulture in mind, ”Muteshi said.

Four years ago, he was invited to a workshop on Hass avocado cultivation in Nairobi and discovered the enormous potential that the company held.

After the session, he had already decided that he would venture into Hass avocado cultivation after finding out that he had an international market ready in the Middle East and Europe.

“I returned home and six months later reserved three acres of land specifically for avocado growing in early 2019,” he says.

Hass avocado is a grafted avocado that has been crossed with a local variety.

Abandon tea culture

A visit by Smart Harvest to his farm in the Luvambo region of Shinyalu paints a portrait of someone who made the right choice to abandon the cultivation of tea in favor of the cultivation of Hass avocado.

“Each Hass avocado stalk is sold for Sh 200 in a local nursery. When planting, the hole should be two feet by two feet wide and one foot deep. A farmer should use organic fertilizer and mix it with topsoil before planting, ”Muteshi said.

The spacing should be between five and seven meters from tree to tree. This is to ensure that the avocado trees will still have direct access to sunlight even after making a canopy.

“A six-month-old Hass avocado seedling has a 90% survival rate. In total, you need at least 20,000 Sh to buy seedlings for a farmer who owns an acre of land. Only 100 Hass avocado plants should be planted on an acre of land, ”Muteshi said.

“Each tree should give you between 3,000 and 5,000 avocados per season. As for me, I will harvest in December, and since this will be my first harvest, I expect between 500 and 1,500 fruits per stem. I have 300 mature avocado trees ”,

Muteshi has already identified a customer in China who he expects to buy his fruit, if he sells the fruit locally at Sh 10, and each tree gives him around 1,000 avocados, then he will harvest 300,000 avocados, which will bring him 3 million Sh.

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