Special Report

Rwanda Should Strategize On Producing Avocados For Export



Health conscious consumers in developed countries in Europe are struggling to find avocados yet Rwanda and other sub-Saharan countries offer excellent conditions for large scale production of this fruit.

Rwanda boasts of 141, 130 metric tons of avocados total production margin per year but most of this is composed of varieties unfit for export.

Kenya is the only country in this part of the world that has consistently developed its Avocado production and therefore enjoyed a seeming export monopoly- the country is ranked eight globally in avocado production.

According to Hosea Machuki, Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) chief executive officer, the country mainly exports 3 varieties: Hass, Fuerte, and local Jumbo variety. More than 115,000 metric tons of avocado are produced in Kenya annually, where 70% are normally grown by small-scale farmers

For example, Kenya’s avocado exports jumped 15% to 68,000 tonnes over the 12 months to October, fetching the country Sh14 billion (U$12,820,5140). This has been attributed to adoption of higher international quality standards.

Meanwhile, Rwanda which joined the East African Community in July 2007 produces 82,000 metric tons of locally grown avocado varieties that are not export-grade. In 2012, the government of Rwanda embarked on an aggressive plan of distributing export-grade seedlings and educating public on the value of different avocado varieties.

Hass avocado is the most popular variety of avocado in the world. The Global Hass Avocado Market is projected to register a Compound annual growth rate (CAGR)  of 4.8% during the forecast period 2020-2025.

Rwandan Scientists in agriculture may require investing deeply in avocado development to come up with an exportable variety that can at least take fewer years to mature despite the growing demand for organic fruits.

However, when you purchase an avocado tree seedling, expect the first fruit three to four years after planting. If you are growing from a seed, it can take anywhere from five to 13 years before the tree is mature enough to set fruit.

During previous years, the performance of the avocado market grew 104% from 2000 to 2016, with a total production of 5.5 million tons in 2016, and a 69% increase in harvested areas. It is expected that European consumption will go from 650,000 tons in 2018 to more than 1,100,000 in 2020.

Health Benefits of Hass Avocado

Avocados are a nutrient-dense food that provide relatively many health benefits that include abundant nutrients (vitamins C, B5, B6, E, and K), potassium, folate, protein, and healthy fats. Seven of the nine grams of carbohydrates in a 100-gram serving are fiber, qualifying avocados as a low-carb food.

Avocado has become a favorite ingredient in many dishes (guacamole dip, salads, sandwiches) and is now on the menu of several restaurants across the U.S. The Avocado toast, a humble breakfast that was earlier eaten mainly in California and Australia, now is a trendy and instagrammable menu item in many restaurants around the world.

Why Investors Should Consider Rwanda For Large-scale Avocado Production

Rwanda has the ideal agro-climatic conditions for avocado cultivation

Rwanda provides a cheaper cost basis for avocado packaging / export than other countries in the EAC

Rwanda is well positioned to serve as an extension of the existing regional avocado export network

Export-oriented industries enjoy substantial Government support

Risks to investment are procurement and transport costs and the adoption of Hass variety seedlings by small holder farmers (SHFs)

Direct sales to 2–3 key EU wholesalers

Supported by sales to EU retailers and supermarkets, such as Tesco, Carrefour and Sainsbury’s