Avocado-growing improves livelihoods for smallholder farmers in Tanzania
The horticulture industry in Tanzania is the fastest growing sub-sector within the agricultural sector with an annual average growth of between 9 to 12% per annum, employing more than 2 million people. The industry is dominated by smallholder farmers with less than 2 hectares of land. Elikao Liamuya is one such farmer.
Elikao has been growing avocado since 2011 when she was introduced to the crop by Africado. She begun by intercropping 50 avocado trees with banana and maize on her one-acre farm. The company has contracted Elikao under its out-grower scheme with 286 smallholder farmers cultivating over 6,500 avocado trees. The out-grower scheme is one of the models supported by AECF under its Tanzania Window, funded by UK Aid with funding from UK government.
From her initial harvest Elikao’s orchard yielded 300 Kgs of avocado from 15 trees, earning her about US $164 during that year. This was a significant increase in income for her in that year, as she normally gets about US $101 from the sale of maize and bananas. The avocado tree takes between 3 to 4 years to mature and it fruits are harvested for about 6 months in a year.
“With the additional income from the avocado, I used the money to pay school fees for my three grandchildren who are in primary school. Their parents were unable to pay for them at the time,“ says Elikao.
Before Africado Ltd’s intervention, most farmers in the region practiced subsistence agriculture which focused on growing just enough food to feed themselves and their families. This meant that most farmers either grew maize or bananas as their staple food.
Africado Ltd was established in the Kilimanjaro Region of Northern Tanzania in 2007 as one of the initial growers of the Hass cultivar avocado variety and the largest grower and exporter of avocados in Tanzania. Owing to its taste, size, shelf-life and high yield in some areas, the Hass cultivar is the most commercially popular avocado worldwide. With AECF funding , the project will establish orchards, construct a pack-house with oil press facilities and upscale the out-grower scheme targeting 3,200 smallholder farmers. The avocados are exported to the European market.