Transforming Avocado Farming: Kenyan Farmers Unite for Knowledge Exchange

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Kenya's avocado sector suffers from up to 40% post-harvest losses and further down the value chain. This staggering statistic underscores the importance of farmer exchange and learning about technical and organisational solutions to reduce losses and improve product quality and logistical process. This was the goal of the farmer exchange visits and meet-up organised by FORQLAB in April

In the days preceding the meetup, 10 farmer leaders from four cooperatives in Meru visited the Nandi cooperative. Nandi farmers had already visited Meru for training and exchange last November. In Nandi, the farmers visited a prominent avocado farm and the aggregation centre in Kapsabet. Farmers discussed challenges and solutions in production, cooperative management, finance, and market access, all while sharing knowledge and experiences openly and freely.

Peter Bouma, lecturer from HAS Green Academy, part of the FORQLAB delegation, observed a significant transformation in both the farmers and their cooperatives. "the Farmers now seek to bring on board more specialised experts to solve complex problems," he noted.

A major outcome of this exchange was the decision by the cooperatives to form a union, enhancing collaboration and bringing in diverse expertise such as banking. This union aims to address shared challenges more effectively, leveraging collective strengths to reduce food losses and improve market access.

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After the meetup, Peter stayed behind to connect farmers with businesses who are relevant for the avocado cooperatives in exploratory meetings. These included logistics companies, ICT firms, and large-scale exporters, all pivotal in building a more resilient and profitable avocado sector.

FORQLAB has played a crucial role in capacity building for the farmers, emphasising the importance of involving multiple stakeholders to reduce food losses and expand market access. Peter Bouma emphasised that FORQLAB did not impose ready made solutions but instead challenged the farmers to be entrepreneurial and come together under a shared motivation and ambition.

Although FORQLAB collaboration between universities is coming to an end, the partnerships and linkages formed by the farmers should continue in different forms to ensure that the right expertise is available to drive further growth and continuity.

The success of FORQLAB and its living lab approach should be replicated in other value chains in the country, which also experience significant food losses. (Peter Bouma- lecturer from HAS Green Academy)


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Ken Owino

NFP Communications

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