Government has selected avocado as one of the high economic potential crops beside coffee that will be promoted and grown throughout the country for export purposes.
This was revealed on Thursday during a meeting of top officials from Agriculture ministry, technocrats from National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) and a private farm; Musubi Farm, that is already growing the avocado for exports.
The Agriculture minister, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, said government has specifically chosen a new variety; Hass avocado, due to its early maturity, high productivity and thelong shelf-life that eases export.
“Hass avocado is a very big agenda for the country because we are talking about something that will bring $1.5b (Shs5.6 trillion) annually. NARO is already doing relevant research to develop varieties that are suited for soil types across the country,” Minister Ssempijja said.
He added that the crop will be promoted throughout the country with extension and financing support services to farmers who will grow it.
“We are discussing this with Cabinet and we are going to provide financial support to farmers. We shall also work on our agriculture input supply system to ensure farmers get good seedlings and pesticides,” he said.
Mr Ssempijja said government will escalate the process of setting up an industry for oil extraction from avocado so that farmers get even more market for all sizes of fruits they will produce.
Government has revealed that the global demand for avocado is estimated at 28 million metric tonnnes annually, against the current supply of 6.4m metric tonnes.
Dr Ambrose Agona, the director general of NARO, said their team of researchers is ready to support the process and are developing varieties that can grow well throughout the country.
“Besides the commercial part, local farmers will also benefit from food and nutrition that comes with avocado. Avocado is rich in antioxidants and alkaloids that help prevent diseases,” he added.
Mr Abubakar Ssengendo, the marketing and communications director at Musubi Farm, said they established 1,000 acres of Hass avocado and plan to plant more.
He said they have already enrolled 650 farmers across the country who have so far established 1,480 acres of the Hass Avocado variety.
This is a variety of avocado with dark green-colour, bumpy skin. It is a large-sized fruit weighing 200g to 300g. Hass avocado comes into production in two and a half years compared to local varieties that may start in seventh or eighth year.
The tree yields about 250 fruits in the first year of harvest.