Kakuzi to offer avocado smallholder farmers free maturity lab testing ahead of harvest – Capital Business
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Agricultural firm Kakuzi will offer avocado smallholder farmers free maturity testing ahead of the harvesting season.
The preharvest maturity testing services will be done at its Avocado Processing and Packhouse facility in Makuyu Town, Muranga County.
This, it claims, will boost both local production and global exports of high-quality fruits.
Christopher Flowers, the company’s managing director, said the laboratory-based testing services will be provided to smallholder farmers as part of a national quality assurance commitment.
“Kakuzi is pleased that the regulator has provided the directions for strict adherence to maturity parameters. We are at hand to provide free maturity testing services for smallholder farmers at our GlobalGAP-certified Makuyu Packhouse laboratories,” he said.
“As avocado farmers, big or small, we must appreciate that every fruit we deliver to the local or export market carries the Kenya quality reputation, and that’s got to be our enduring objective; giving our customers a fruit they want more of while sustaining the Kenyan market and brand positioning.”
He added that testing will help minimize post-harvest losses while enhancing the farmers’ technical skills.
The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), through its Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), has announced that the 2023 avocado harvesting season will officially begin on March 24th, 2023, and has provided technical details relating to maturity parameters.
According to HCD, avocados should be harvested when they reach maturity, which is determined by a minimum dry matter standard of 24 percent.
In a public notice, the Directorate stated that “harvesting avocado at the recommended stage of maturity of more than 24% dry matter content reduces the fruit’s susceptibility to mesocarp bruising.”
On that day, farmers will receive detailed pre-harvest reports on the quality and maturity of their fruit samples.
According to the HCD Public notice, determining the exact stage of maturity during the growth and development of avocado fruit is difficult because the fruit does not exhibit obvious characteristics that could indicate the optimum state of “readiness for harvest”
Further, avocado fruit maturity will not improve after picking, so it is essential that the fruit reaches the required marketing preferences before harvest.
Harvesting immature avocado fruit negatively affects the quality of the fruit, resulting in a grassy aftertaste, a watery or rubbery texture, and a lack of flavor.
The Authority (HCD) has engaged avocado exporters and Horticultural Produce Marketing Agents (HPMAS) to boost compliance with maturity requirements.
AFA urges all avocado value chain actors to adhere to production and post-harvest handling requirements to ensure that consumers have a positive experience when consuming the Kenyan avocado.
This will also ensure that Kenya’s avocado industry remains competitive globally.