By The Weekly Vision
Hass farmers within the country have been advised to purchase seedlings from registered dealers to avoid being duped by unscrupulous sellers. The sentiments come in the wake of troubling incidents in Kenya’s Western region, where some farmers have been lured into purchasing low-quality seedlings from unrecognized dealers who do not understand the crop well.
Speaking during an educational tour at their Kaimosi farm in Vihiga County, the managing director of Sisi Village Produce, Mr Patrick Kisia, called on farmers to be wary of marauding dealers who are not licensed but were luring them into purchasing avocado seedlings from them, claiming that they are original Hass species, only to find out later that they have been conned. The educational tour, which attracted Hass avocado farmers, brand ambassadors, field officers and investors, was meant to demystify the myth surrounding Hass farming and to enlighten farmers on the best practices that will enable them to reap from the growing of the fruit.
“We are gathered here today to educate our farmer about the best ways of planting this Hass avocado; how to identify the best and correct seedlings; how to care for the trees until they start fruiting; and why Hass avocado farming is the next big investment in the country,” said Mr Kisia.
The director said it was time farmers in the region embraced this type of farming, considering that there was a ready market for the product and its profits were more as compared to cane farming. “We as Sisi Village Produce are committed to giving our farmers quality seedlings, training and expertise on how to manage their avocado farms, from planting to harvesting. And our field officers are on the lookout to see to it that farmers get quality for their money.
We have highly educated and trained our officers on the best farming practices and we value our farmers. That is why our officers are right on the ground with them to ensure that they assist them do soil sampling, test planting procedures, having correct spacing, getting the best quality seedlings, and following the laid down guidelines for proper yields. So far, we are happy to announce that many farmers, who subscribed to us in Nyanza and Western regions, have no regrets and are about to start earning from the crop,” the director added.
Mr Kisia hailed the good job his field agents were doing, as more farmers were now aware of the benefits of Hass farming and were moving away from sugar cane farming. “The notion that if you plant avocados on your farm you will die of hunger is unfounded and backward, since you can plant other friendly crops between the spaces and its benefits surpass those of sugarcane by far,” he told them.
The company has set up nurseries in Kimilili, Likuyani and Malava areas, so as to be able to supply to the farmers from those regions. “At Kimilili, we have a nursery with 60,000 seedlings per cycle, which adds up to 120,000 per annum. Likuyani has 100,000 seedlings compared to Malava, which houses 150,000. Our target is to have 9 million seedlings in the next five years and to achieve this, we have to set up 10-15,000 nurseries in the entire region.
This Kaimosi nursery is the first one in Vihiga County and it will give farmers ready seedlings for planting,” Mr Kisia informed them. “At Sisi, we go by data and hence strictly stick to high standards of best quality seeds. We do our own grafting to ensure that farmers get the best quality seedlings from us since our intention is to give quality goods and services to our farmers. Therefore, our standards cannot be compromised and this has made us stand out as the best Hass avocado producers in the country.”
On quality control, the director stated that it was necessary for each nursery to have a quality control ambassador who will ensure that only quality seedlings are in the nursery. He urged the officers to seriously embrace the information being relayed to them for they are the ones to educate the farmers when they visit their farms.
“This tour is meant to educate you on the best practices that you will in turn disseminate to the farmers, so as to enable them make profits from Hass farming,” he told them. “Already we have a report on a farmer who planted seven hectares of avocado seedlings that were not all Hass. He relied on wrong advice, and it has been three years now but he is yet to harvest. We are going there as Sisi Village Produce to correct the mistakes and give him the right seedlings.”
On the production of crude avocado oil, he revealed that plans were underway to set up an extraction factory at Kaimosi, which would utilize those fruits that do not meet the requirements for export. He added that they had already partnered with an investor to set up the factory. “It is a government policy to promote local manufacturing and as such, we are making a promise to the government that as a company, we are ready to commence the process come December. Already we have a company at EPZ Athi River that is collecting all kinds of avocado fruits for extraction purposes,” he told them.