Farmers told to capitalise on the booming avocados trade

Friday July 02 2021
Avocsdo pic

Hass avocado varieties are now preferred. PHOTO|FILE

By Rosemary Mirondo

Dar es Salaam. If you want to make quick money as a horticulturist at a time when the world is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, then you must pour your resources more in avocado growing than flowers.

This is because foreign markets for horticultural products have suddenly taken a shift from fresh flowers to avocados, which are currently sought for their nutrients vis-a-vis the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tanzania Horticultural Association (Taha), said yesterday.

Avocados have a number of potential health benefits including: improving digestion, decreasing risk of depression and protection against cancer.

Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals

The Taha marketing officer, Isaac Lyimo, said at the ongoing 45th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) that, in the past, horticultural exports were mostly of fresh flowers. But, this is currently shifting to fruits and roots, including avocados.

“We used to export green beans, snow peas, habanera pepper, among other products. But due to the ravaging Covid-19, our buyers have shifted from these products, and are now looking for nutrients which are readily found in avocados,” he said.

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Tanzania has a high potential for exports of avocados, the country’s latest ‘green gold.’

Its avocado exports have risen from 1,877 metric tons (tonnes) in 2014 to 9,000 tonnes in 2019.

Close to 9,000 tonnes valued at $30 million were exported last year - up from almost zero seven years ago.

The global market for avocados stood at $13.6 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach $21.6 billion in 2026.

In Tanzania, avocados are currently grown in Mbeya, Songwe and Njombe in the Southern Highlands, as well as in the Northern zone.

The ‘Hass’ avocado variety is preferred in the market, and stakeholders are currently training farmers on quality production of the fruit.