Traditionally, avocado farmers in Tanzania would sell their produce to middlemen from Dar es Salaam. Without certification, the farmers lacked the muscle in the marketplace and were forced to contend with low prices for their produce. The middlemen would select the best fruit and leave the rest to rot.

In 2015, with US$ 1 million of match-funding from AECF, Olivado Tanzania Ltd was founded to provide a better deal for avocado farmers. Purchasing avocados directly from local smallholders, Olivado processes oil from the harvested fruit and uses the waste to produce biogas. This model enables famers to receive payment from every fruit they pick, significantly boosting their income. Olivado also provides free training and extension support and helps farmers achieve organic certification, which means produce can fetch higher prices through export.

Although certain programme activities were disrupted during 2020 due to COVID-19, Olivado’s temporary facility processed 1,200MT of avocado at an average oil yield of 10.2%, with 80% of the processed fruit purchased from local farmers.

According to Mr. Firoth Mgunda, an avocado farmer from Itulalumba village who joined the programme in April 2019, “Olivado rescued us from the middlemen who didn’t really care about us, [just] their profit”. Having achieved certification through Olivado, Firoth complies with all biodiversity criteria and organic farming standards, which brings him a premium price for his produce.

In 2020, Firoth harvested over 16,000kg of avocado worth US$ 2,350. “Previously,” says Firoth, “this fruit would have been wasted on the farm without any buyer due to poor quality.” With the income boost, Firoth has been able to pay his children’s school fees and purchase building materials for a new house. He believes that Olivado not only transformed his livelihood but his life.