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Boom for Kenyan avocado farmers as California drought bites

Kenyan farmers could benefit from a sharp rise in the price of avocados on the international market in the coming weeks because of a shortfall in production in California, the leading US exporter.

The production shortfall is blamed in part on severe heat during last summer when the avocados that are currently being harvested were still maturing. That was on top of the long drought that affected the state and, when the heavy rains finally arrived in the winter, it was too late.

Kenyan coffee farmers have been switching production to avocados in recent years as demand for the product has skyrocketed on the international market.

Kenya sells around £180 million worth of avocados to the UK alone each year.

But consumer experts have warned of the danger of over-relying on avocados as there has already been a reaction in the ethical consumer market – which forms a significant part of people who buy the product – to purchasing avocados grown in developing countries.

The reaction is in part fueled by concerns over air miles, the distance and environmental cost of bringing in avocados from developing countries, but also the consequences, in that avocados could become unaffordable for local consumers.

Story by Daily Nation Kenya

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