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Spotlight on LMICs – Unlocking Avocado Excellence: Cultivar Insights for Ethiopia’s Agricultural Future

East Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change and food insecurity. The projected increase to the world population places increased pressure and demand for food, and land for cultivation. Sustainable and scientifically based agroforestry practices can provide a wide range of economic, sociocultural, and environmental benefits and services for future generations. Fruits that are not native to specific regions, such as the avocado, are being introduced across the globe and Africa is no exception. Six avocado cultivars were introduced in Ethiopia and their productivity is being tested.

Aster Gebrekirstos et al. assessed the adaptation, survival rate, growth performances, fruit yield, and household contributions of five avocado cultivars: Ettinger, Fuerte, Hass, Nabal, and Reed in Lemo district Ethiopia. The authors took it a step further and assessed the gender differences in management practices applied by male and female farmers. The study discerned that overall, the five avocado cultivars are highly adaptable, very productive and beneficial for both local food consumption and the income generation option. Specifically, it showed that:

  • Nabal, Fuerte, Ettinger, and Hass performed the best in terms of vegetative growth.
  • Nabal had the highest fruit yield, fruit weight, and width, followed by Hass. Ettinger and Reed had the longest and shortest fruit length, respectively. 
  • Nabal was the best-selling cultivar, while Hass was mainly used for domestic consumption.
  • More management practices were applied to female farmers than to male farmers.

This study outlines the importance of cultivar selection for smallholder farmers to scale up production under midland agro-climatic conditions. Managed adequately, this can increase fruit production, food security, youth employment, and smallholder farmer well-being. In line actionable science, the authors recommend further research in planting material improvement, propagation techniques, and compatibility of scions and rootstocks, as well as the need for supplementary irrigation.

Dr. Gebrekirstos is a part of the Past Global Changes (PAGES) Global Research Network of Future Earth. Her research focuses on tropical forest ecology and management that spans the areas of dendroclimatology, plant water relations, agroforestry, climate change, applications of stable isotopes, land restoration. She led and participated in research projects across Africa and Asia. Dr. Gebrekirstos is senior scientist and head of the dendrochronology lab, World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya, and affiliated with Erlangen University, Germany. 

Gebrekirstos A, Seid H, Hadgu K, Mokira M, Hagazi N, Dubale W. (2023).  Adaptation and Growth Performance of Five Avocado Cultivars in Ethiopia. Heliyon. 9(12): e23037,

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