To be a successful avocado farmer, you need to be kin on diseases and pests that may affect the quality of fruits, limiting access to the export market.
Like any other crop, avocado has to be managed well, although in Uganda, the crop can grow without much management.
Poor management also reduces the profitability of the crop.
Seedlings for planting can be got from commercial dealers at sh3,000-sh4,000. Plant at the beginning of the rainy season.
Although no research has been done, there could be over 50 avocado varieties in Uganda.
Avocado can be intercropped with coffee, chilies, hot pepper, and passion fruits, among other crops. You need to prune, weed, add fertilisers where necessary and spray against pests.
The trees start fruiting when they are four to five years old and can remain productive for over 50 years.
In a year, a single mature tree can yield 300kg or three sacks of 100kg each.
A sack can go for about sh50,000 on the local market.
Irrigation of trees
Irrigation is important during several stages of tree development and the fruiting cycle.
During the first months of establishment and later during their first years of growth, trees must be irrigated whenever there are signs of withering.
Avocados develop long taproots, but depending on the climate they may need some additional irrigation, especially during dry spells.
Sufficient moisture is required during flowering, fruit set and fruit development.
For good productivity, it is beneficial to apply manure regularly. Between five and 20kg of organic fertilizers can be applied per tree every year.
Be careful with nitrogen – it promotes leaf growth but not flowering, and avocado roots are sensitive to high salt concentrations in the soil.
Phosphorous is usually also necessary and potassium is important for mature trees that bear fruit.
Locally, avocado can be sold to supermarkets and exporters. Internationally, the major markets are the European Union, and the US.
Although avocado has a big market, proper modern management practices are seldom followed. For example, the challenge of post-harvest losses as a result of improper management of avocado trees and fruits.
Pre-harvest pest and disease control, pruning, methods of harvesting and handling are improperly done.
How to tell when fruit is ready for harvest
Change of colour
In dark varieties, there is a change in colour from green to black or purple.
On green varieties, the fruit stems turn yellow, the skin may appear less shiny, or the end develops rust-like spots. Some varieties develop a whitish appearance.
Products from avocado
Avocado oil is one of the healthiest super food oils. Just like the fruit itself, avocado oil is packed full of healthy fats. It is made by pressing the fleshy pulp.
Avocado spread is just like mayonnaise. Each bottle of avocado spread contains around 85% avocado, plus a little lemon juice, white wine vinegar and grapeseed oil, for tang and extra creaminess
It is basically avocado blended with fruit and grape juice, and a squeeze of lemon to stop the mixture from going brown. Avocado is also used on cosmetic products as one of the ingredients.