KENYA – Kenyan fresh food producer and exporter, Kakuzi Plc has unveiled free fruit maturity testing service for smallholder avocado farmers for the current harvest period.
As part of the firm’s out-grower development programs, Kakuzi, the prime exporter of quality Hass variety avocados, will provide free maturity testing services during the current harvest period that runs to August this year.
The services will ensure compliance with quality standards and enhance the value of Kenyan fruit in the global market.
It will be provided at its FSSC 22000 Food Safety Management Systems certified Kakuzi Avocado Processing and Packhouse facility, located near Makuyu town, along the Nairobi-Nyeri highway.
“We are encouraging HASS variety Avocado farmers to consider taking advantage of the free fruit maturity testing services at the Kakuzi facility to minimize losses that accrue from the premature harvesting of this precious fruit.”Kakuzi PLC’s Executive Head – Corporate Affairs, Mr Simon Odhiambo
“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,” highlighted the firm in a statement.
The initiative is aimed to reduce post-harvest challenges arising from the handling of premature fruits.
The testing services will also help boost the national branding objectives geared at positioning Kenya as a quality avocado fruits source market in the highly regulated global avocado markets.
“We are encouraging HASS variety Avocado farmers to consider taking advantage of the free fruit maturity testing services at the Kakuzi facility to minimize losses that accrue from the premature harvesting of this precious fruit.
“The testing service will also serve to enhance quality assurance for all export-grade fruits, to enable Kenya to grow its international reputation,” said Kakuzi PLC’s Executive Head – Corporate Affairs, Mr Simon Odhiambo.
At the GlobalGAP certified Kakuzi Avocado Packhouse, farmers will receive detailed pre-harvest reports on quality and maturity against their fruit samples.
Last year, Kakuzi Avocado Smallholder Farmers enjoyed a payment of Ksh. 57.9 Million (US$533,000) and access to the growing international market.
According to Fresh Plaza, Kenya’s avocado campaign started in February for the Fuerte variety and March for Hass, after the country lifted a ban on the shipment of the produce to markets abroad to curb pre-mature harvests by cartels keen on profiteering from global demand.
In 2020, the country’s avocado exports hit 72,000 tons, which was a stark increase from the 59,000 tons recorded in the previous year.
Reports by Xinhua have indicated that the East African nation’s exports of avocados hit 26,000 tonnes between January and March 2021, compared to 15,000 tonnes registered in a similar period in 2020.
This resulted to the value of Kenya’s avocado exports jump 93 per cent to Ksh4.26 billion (US$39.5m) in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous period, buoyed by improved demand in global markets.
Most of the consignments are currently heading to Europe, which is one of Kenya’s major markets for avocados in terms of returns, with some exported to the Middle East.
A few batches are exported to China as Kenya is yet to meet the conditions set by Beijing to warrant the exports of these fruits in large quantities.
Biodegradable avocado packaging
Meanwhile, researchers under the Guacapack Project are developing a biodegradable packaging system from avocado waste capable of extending food shelf life by 15 percent.
The packaging system will include barrier labels and antioxidant additives, protecting guacamole and similar foodstuffs from oxidation.
The process extracts and purifies starch from the avocado seed to produce a film for multilayer IML labels with oxygen barrier properties.
Additionally, the high antioxidant active components of waste avocado skin and flesh can also be used as a component of PLA bioplastic and injection-molded to manufacture the packaging system.
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