Experts have urged more Nigerian farmers, especially young entrepreneurs, to take more interest in avocado farming.
This, they said, could open up more investment opportunities for them and attract high returns for young people who had no interest in farming.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that in Nigeria, avocado is planted to some extent by some farmers, but productivity is generally low.
Nigeria is endowed with a large number of agricultural products, some of which have not received adequate national attention in terms of promoting their industrial use.
And government efforts to boost agricultural production and productivity by improving market linkages and access to e-extension technology are mainly oriented towards the development of basic commodities, such as cocoa, rice, corn, etc., with little or no emphasis on underutilized plant species, such as Avocado.
Among all fruits, only olive (oleo europa) and oil palm fruit (elaeisguineensis) can compete with avocado oil in content.
The avocado, commonly known as the African pear (dacryodes edulis), is a well-known plant in West Africa.
According to the Raw Material Research Development Council (RMRDC), studies conducted in Nigeria have shown that avocado development has the potential to generate around 50 billion naira per year, in addition to enhancing job creation and livelihoods. establishment of new processing industries.
Its industrial transformation, according to the Director General of the Council, Professor Hussaini Doko Ibrahim, has the ability to promote the development of the country’s food and beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.
He said the avocado is mostly found in forests, farmlands and farms in Nigeria. It grows mainly in southern and central Nigeria. The distribution, in terms of abundance, is closely related to vegetation conditions, with rainforest having the most abundant distribution.
The plant grows in situ in Imo, Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Edo, Akwa-Ibom, Delta and Cross River states. Although commercialized to a reasonable extent, avocado is less abundant in the states of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Bayelsa, Taraba and Rivers compared to the states listed above.
In most central parts of the country such as Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Niger and Nasarawa states, it occurs occasionally. It is also found to a lesser extent in Plateau and Kaduna states, an RMRDC document says.
Why Nigeria Should Pay Attention to Avocado
The global avocado trade is increasing. The main players in the export market are Israel, Mexico, South Africa, the United States and Chile, while the main importers of fruits include Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and, in America, the United States, Canada and Japan, producing countries realizing considerable income from the harvest.
For example, the value of avocado production in the United States was $426 million in 2020. The United States produced 206,610 tons. Total U.S. acres in production stabilized at 52,720. In 2020, the U.S. imported $2.4 billion worth of fresh avocados and exported approximately $45,502 worth of fresh avocados. The contribution of avocado imports to total US production increased by 273%, from $1.7 billion in 2012 to $6.5 billion in 2019/20.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya is a major producer of avocados, with an estimated annual production of 180,000 tonnes in 2019. Each year, more than 1,000 containers are shipped to Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the United States. ‘Asia. Kenya has about 8,000 ha of cultivated land.
Some of the incentives that have contributed to the development of avocado farming in Kenya include increased interest and investment in the sector by the government, contract farming and the replacement of old trees with improved varieties. However, the major factors driving the global increase are oil content, nutritional and medicinal values.
Why Nigerian Farmers Don’t Care Much About Cultivation
According to Malam Yunus Isah, a retired farmer, despite its growing popularity, avocado development is facing some challenges in Nigeria.
He said avocado trees were much more expensive to establish than most other fruits. This, he says, makes it difficult for non-wealthy farmers to invest in large acreages.
“Before 2012, even in developed economies, only wealthy farmers were involved in large-scale farming because it was more expensive and considered an investment,” he said.
But RMRDC boss Prof. H. D Ibrahim insisted the harvest could be an opportunity to help young Nigerian entrepreneurs to work in agriculture as it is knowledge intensive and can open up opportunities. investment and high returns to young people who had no previous interest in agriculture.
To this end, he said that the RMRDC has made avocado development one of the strategic projects to boost the development program of agricultural products for industrial use.
As part of the project, he said the Council is collaborating with agricultural research teams and private sector agents to conduct productivity improvement trials on local varieties of avocados.
“The Council has also entered into agreements for the development of the internationally recognized HASS variety from Mexico and California to the United States of America for localization and adaptation trials in the country.
“Local Variety Council field trials have shown that productivity can be greatly improved under the conditions of farmers in the south of the country,” he said.
According to him, the Council has reached agreements with farmers interested in growing avocado in Nigeria on a large scale, and that more than eight farmers who have expressed interest are working with experts to assess their farms for the establishment of plantations.
This initiative, when fully completed, he said, would save the country more than N50 billion in foreign exchange equivalent, apart from its wealth and job creation potential.