Why You Should Try Hass Avocado Farming
Avocados have been around for thousands of years. They are native to Central America and Mexico where they were cultivated by early humans as far back as 500BC.
The Hass variety takes its name from an American postal worker, Rudolph Hass, who grafted various unknown rootstock varieties with the Fuerte variety way back in 1924. Grafting is a horticultural process of ensuring that the desired fruit variety continues growing on an existing tree variety. By doing this, Rudolph was trying to grow Fuerte which was considered the most superior variety at the time.
For two years, one tree rejected the graft and Rudolph decided to leave it and see what would happen .
The fruit that grew from the tree was very different from the Fuerte variety that surrounded it. The skin color was darker, rough and pebbly.
Encouraged by the fruit’s taste and long harvest season, Rudolph Hass decided to promote the new variety that he named after himself. He took a patent for the variety in 1935 and made a deal with Harold Brokaw, the owner of a nursery in Whittier CA to sell and promote the variety from which he would take 25% of the proceeds on all sales.
That single hass avocado mother tree became the origin of Hass avocado fruit as we know it today. It lived on for 76 years, succumbing to root rot in 2002. There are approximately 10million Hass avocado trees worldwide, 40% of which are presumed to be in Mexico.
Mexico has always been the world’s largest producer of the fruit accounting for about 45% of the world’s total production. 90% of the country’s avocado production is concentrated in Michoacan state which has approximately 260,000 acres of cultivar planted. Mexico alone, contributed 2.5Million metric tonnes Of the total 6.5 Million metric tonnes of avocado traded globally in the year 2018. Other big producers are Peru, Dominican Republic, Chile, Columbia and Indonesia in that order.
Africa’s biggest producer is Kenya with approximately 30,000 acres of cultivar followed closely by South Africa and Morocco
Uganda has hundreds of avocado fruit varieties planted largely on subsistence scales; with the largest tree population found in West Nile, the North Western part of the country and many of these trees were planted during the colonial times.
Uganda did not embrace avocado fruit production on a commercial scale until 2018, when Musubi Farm embarked on the journey of popularizing the Hass avocado variety through mass sensitisation, availing of planting material and securing markets for farmers upon harvest.
Musubi farm started by developing a block of about 120 acres, from which they’ve grown to develop slightly over a thousand acres. Our goal is to have a total acreage of 2500 acres of cultivar developed by December 2021. If achieved, this will become the largest single continuous avocado farm in the whole of Africa, second in the world.
Avocado trees generally thrive in tropical environments which makes it impossible to grow in all countries out of the tropics. This limits the number of producers globally, yet by virtue of it being the most nutritious fruit under the sun, its consumption knows neither political nor geographical borders.
Uganda being a country with Tropical environment has an opportunity at its hands.
Land is a significant resource in this kind of trade. Planting matrices of 5M X 5M, 7M X4M, 9MX9M among others are all aimed at maximum utilisation of the land. Countries like Chile with limited land do high density cultivation at a tree spacing of 3MX3M. Most of the world’s largest producers have no room for expansion of their farms because they have no land. Uganda is blessed with a total 17 million acres of land available for cultivation.
Development of just 5% of this puts Uganda in the comfortable position of being the leading market producer of the fruit. It’s important to note at this point that Mexico, with its 300,000 acres of cultivar managed to get USD 2.5bn from the export of this fruit alone. That should give Uganda an insight on how important this trade would be to the economy especially in its balance of trade and increased revenue.
All the world’s major producers rely heavily on irrigation for orchard development which makes it quite costly. Due to this hindrance, Peru has only been able to do about 2000 acres of cultivar annually since 2018 in its expansion plan. It costs approximately USD 10,000 per acre to establish an orchard in Peru. According to Musubi Farm research, it costs a maximum of USD 2800 dollars to establish an orchard with a well installed drip irrigation line, and only USD 800 if one doesn’t want to irrigate. Our team has established that avocado trees can survive well without irrigation if planting is done well within the long rains. The bi-annual rain pattern gives Uganda a privilege very few other countries enjoy under the sun. This means Uganda would develop 3 acres for every acre Peru develops.
Uganda’s youthful population also gives it an edge over its competitors in crop production. The young generation provides cheap labour which will further reduce our cost per unit production.
Majority of the various spacing matrices will give you an average tree population of 160 trees per acre.
To have a more realistic estimate of the income projections. We make several assumptions;
- We will be harvesting the lowest yield possible, similar to what our local trees yield.
- We will be harvesting the smallest sizable fruit; size 32, for which we need 32 fruits to make a kilogram.
- Each of the smallest fruits will be bought at the least amount of money possible, just Ugx 100.
In the ideal case, a tree is expected to yield 250 fruits in its first season but we shall keep that to a minimum of 100 fruits only.
The tree goes into production at 30 months (2 and a half years)
Year Fruit/Tree Fruit/acre Income
1 100 1600 1,600,00
2 200 3200 3.2M
3 400 6400 6.4M
4 800 12800 12.8M
Note: Indicated prices are farm gate prices, and are based on the smallest sizeable fruit.
As seen from the above table, yield per tree keeps on increasing in doubles every other year as the tree is still growing. The tree is expected to fully mature at year 10, but for purposes of being conservative, we stop the doubling at year 4. At which we expect to start having a stable annual yield of at least UGX 12.8M per acre for the next 50 years.
The above figures are also based on only the first harvesting season, we are assuming we don’t even get a single fruit from the second.
From this point on, things can only get better. Proper weeding and feeding of trees will yield more fruits per tree and also improve the fruit size which in-turn will yield better incomes.
Musubi farm guarantees these figures and commits to buy all fruit harvested from the farmers at the prevailing market rate. The farm’s value chain plan, will extract edible oil from the avocado fruit, cosmetic oil for beauty products, herbal derivatives from the seed and fertiliser from the skin. This will relieve the Farmer of the burden of dealing with rejects that may not make it to the export market, and also guarantee quality of Ugandan export products on the world market.
Image: Musubi Farm.