CABI scientist Dr MaryLucy Oronje has won the Outstanding Woman Award at the Kenya Avocado Excellence Awards (KAEA) held recently to recognise individuals and organizations for their contribution to Kenya’s avocado industry.

Dr Oronje, who is based at CABI’s regional centre for Africa in Nairobi, won the award for her role as the team leader that brought together a Technical Working Group (TWG) who produced an Avocado Good Practice Guide for Kenya.

The guide was supported by COLEACP under the NExT Kenya Programme, which is aimed at enhancing horticultural exports, and is the result of collaboration between CABI and a range of government and industry partners.

These include the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Horticultural Crops Directorate, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Cooperatives and the Pest Control Products Board.

Others that were part of the TWG were horticulture business membership organizations like the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya, the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, the Avocado Society of Kenya, the Avocado Exporters Association of Kenya and individual producers, exporters and service providers such as Kakuzi PLC and Amiran and Crop Nutrition Services Ltd.

Kenya is one of the fastest growing fresh produce exporters in the world and this includes avocado which is the world’s fastest growing fruit in popularity. Indeed, global avocado production has increased by 72% in the past 10 years.

In Kenya, in 2019, the country produced an estimated 365,000 metric tonnes of avocado – which represents a 100% increase compared to 2016. The majority of avocados in Kenya are grown by smallholder farmers who manage between 100 to 200 trees.

However, considerable losses occur along the whole supply chain due to poor pre and post-harvest disorders and handling. This includes substandard handling, storage, processing, packaging, transportation and marketing of the goods.

Dr Oronje, an expert in sanitary and phytosanitary measures, said, “I am delighted to have received this award as an individual and leader on the project. However, I also accept it in recognition of the collaborative efforts of the whole Technical Working Group. Without their support and expertise, the Avocado Good Practice Guide for Kenya would not have been produced.

“Indeed, the guide is developed by the private sector for the private sector and will help revolutionize the sector and enhance production, quality, and maintain the export market. COLEACP is leading its finalization before we embark on training on the various aspects affecting avocado production and quality in the international export market.”

Dr Oronje was presented with her award at a gala dinner at the Trademark Hotel in Nairobi. The KAEA is now in its third edition and was held to incentivize and encourage competitiveness and growth within the avocado industry.

It followed the inaugural event held in 2021 whereby 35 awards were given and in 2019 a total of 24 winning entries were awarded the coveted trophies and certificates.

Other individual awards presented at the 2022 gala dinner included the Young Achievers Award, Lifetime Achievers Award and the Avocado Person of the Year 2022.


Additional information

Main image: Principle Secretary of the State Department for Crop Development Mr Kello Harsama presents Dr MaryLucy Oronje with the Outstanding Woman Award (Credit: ASOK).