avocados credit Aya Zamir

Photo: Aya Zamir

Scientists in Kenya say they are close to launching a new avocado variety that apparently offers improved yields, as well as better taste and nutritional value compared with “most conventional breeds”.

According to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), which has conducted trials on the as yet unnamed new hybrid, commercial production of the variety could begin as soon as March next year.

“Currently, there is great hope for Kenya in avocados,” said Lusike Wasilwa, a senior fruit scientist at KARI, adding that research on the new variety during the pilot stages has been promising. “The new variety has been producing over 270 tonnes per hectare, compared with 240 tonnes for most other available varieties.”

Introducing new varieties is seen as a way of increasing loyalty in the market, according to Stephen Mbithi, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Exporters of Association of Kenya. “You have to come up with creativity as a fruit producer,” he explained. “You have to partner with people such as scientists and marketers. When you improve the quality of a product, you beat competition.”

He added that by the second half of next year, the new avocado could well be averaging about 4,000 tonnes in terms of its exports to Europe, where the Dutch import business takes the lion’s share. “We have noticed that the variety we are still researching can produce excellent cooking oil as well as good cosmetics compared with the conventional breeds. It also has better taste than the other varieties. It should be in both the local and international markets by March.”