KENYA – Listed agri-business firm Kakuzi PLC is piloting an e-learning agricultural extension service to boost quality avocado production by smallholder farmers.

 The first of a kind e-learning agricultural extension service will be undertaken through an online platform branded Kakuzi Avocademy, which targets smallholder farmers wishing to receive professional tips on quality avocado husbandry.

 According to Kakuzi Plc Managing Director Chris Flowers, the online Kakuzi Avocademy platform developed under a shared prosperity model will act as an online interactive information hub to provide expert knowledge on good agricultural practices and quality avocado production, from field preparation to harvesting and post-harvest protocols.

 He said the platform had activated a dedicated Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts (@KakuziAvocademy) to share experiences, tips and respond to existing and potential avocado farmers’ queries.

Plans are also at an advanced stage to unveil a dedicated Kakuzi Avocademy website that will provide production tips and related audio-visual resources to guide farmers.

Ultimately, the platform, he said, will also host an online market to connect avocado production inputs sellers with willing buyers.

 “The Kakuzi Avocademy is a deliberate corporate sustainability effort to enhance farmers understanding of the rigorous demands which export markets  this is key if they are to create the greatest demand for their products.

“Through the “Kakuzi Avocademy” e-learning program, we share expert knowledge on agronomy, avocado husbandry and related Good Agricultural Practices to our farming community,” Flowers said.

 As part of the program, Kakuzi is also offering local nursery operators and community groups in Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado, Nandi, Nyeri and Laikipia Counties free training on nursery beds preparation as well as the free provision of avocado scions.

 Mr Flowers said, “The fact is that access to the lucrative traditional markets is becoming complex. These markets demand that our fruit meets all the required criteria, including quality, traceability, and sustainability. Under a shared prosperity model, through the Kakuzi Avocademy platform, we are well placed to teach farmers how to grow fruits properly for the valuable export markets.”

 Over the last four years, Kakuzi has paid out Kshs 290 million to smallholder avocado farmers as part of the shared prosperity approach.

Currently, Kakuzi works with more than 3,500 smallholder farmers, ten active smallholder groups, and seven active out-growers spread across Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Meru and Nandi counties.

The Kakuzi avocado smallholder program focuses on the economic empowerment of smallholder avocado farmers through sharing skills and knowledge on avocado growing and overall good agricultural practices.

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