Impact of Anthracnose on Avocado Production in Kenya

in HortScience

Avocado is the leading horticultural export in Kenya. In 2003, Kenya exported about 19,000 t, compared to 23 t in 1970. Most of the fruit is exported to the European markets. There are several constraints limiting production of avocado in Kenya, including limited superior varieties or planting material, poor infrastructure, poor market information, and poor tree crop management. Although several diseases infect avocado, the most important are fruit rot pathogens, such as anthracnose, cercospora, and scab. However, diseases and pests have not been important to avocado production in Kenya. Recently (2004), the constraint limiting avocado production in Kenya is anthracnose, caused by Colletotrichum gloeospoirioides. Little is known in Kenya on the impact of this disease on production and income realized by small-(<1 acre) or large-scale growers. The objectives of this research were to quantify losses attributed to anthracnose in Kenya, determine the current disease control measures, and recommend good agricultural practice in conformance with EUREP-GAP. A survey was conducted in the avocado growing areas to identify and document constraints limiting avocado production in 2004. The highest losses were reported from central Kenya, where exporters reported up to 100% losses. Because all avocado varieties growing in Kenya are susceptible to anthracnose, it is recommended that good management, i.e., control of pests and diseases and good postharvest handling of fruit to minimize injury used as an entry point by anthracnose, should be enforced.

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