Fresh produce deal helps Kenyan farmers


Nairobi. September 4, 2013. A group of Kenyan farmers from Siongiroi and Mara in the Rift Valley have sealed a deal with leading European supermarkets such as Albert Heijn to supply avocados. Over 300 farmers have set aside a half acre each to grow 80 avocado trees, funded by the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi.

The certified avocado trees are sold to the farmers at 500 Kenya Shillings (5 euro) each, which is half the market price. Certification means the produce will be accepted by the EU. Sainsbury, a leading retail outlet in Great Britain, has invested in the production of kales in Central Kenya, so as to meet its market specifications.

Kenyan products have in the past been rejected by international markets because of failure to meet strict specifications. Last year the EU banned the export of vegetables treated with dimethoate, a pesticide said to be harmful to humans. The pesticide though is popular with Kenyan farmers.

An existing market attracts committed farmers and motivates producers to invest, according to a report by Agri-Profocus, an agricultural think-tank. The European and other international markets have proved very lucrative for Kenyan fruits and vegetables. Apart from avocados, the main export products are mangos, pineapples, passion fruit and French beans.