By Uchenna Ezeadigwe
Avocado, commonly referred to as the African pear, is a well-known plant in West Africa that has contributed immensely to the volume of local and communal trade during its season. According to Ogunwusi A. A and Ibrahim H. D. of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Abuja, Avocado plant has huge export potential for Nigeria and its export is contributing positively to economics of countries such as Mexico, South Africa and Kenya.
“In 2015, Peru exported avocado fruits totalling US$282.75 to the Dutch market, Spain, UK, Chile and Costa-Rica. Although adequately available in Nigeria, this plant species is not yet well developed. However, in view of its industrial utilisation potential, it has become important that avocado pear be sustainably developed for industrial use”, they wrote in their report- ‘Economic Significance of Avocado Pear in Nigeria’ published in 2016.
Avocado is a medium-sized, evergreen tree that reaches about 20-30 feet in height and features large, green foliage cover. It prefers fertile soil with high moisture to flourish. Small light green flowers appear during winter. In about 8-10 months’ time from bloom, hundreds of pear-shaped green fruits cover all over the tree.
Avocados mature on the tree but ripen only after their harvest. Once ripe, their complexion turns from light green to deep green or purple and yields to gentle thumb pressure. Inside, its creamy flesh has a buttery texture with bland taste yet pleasant aroma. The fruit features centrally placed single brown colour seed. On an average, each fruit weighs about 300-700g, although the sight of heavier avocados is not rare in the markets.
However, Avocado is a versatile fruit as it can be used for both culinary purposes as well as a part of beauty regiments. It is one of the most nutritious fruits as it is very high in fibre, vitamins K, B5, B6, and C, folate and potassium. The bark, leaves, stems and roots are also used to make local medication. Despite its increasing popularity, the plant species has remained largely underdeveloped in the Nigeria.
Avocado leaves have potent benefits in fighting stomach ulcer and relieve gastritis as well as bloating problem. A research shows that the extract of avocado leaves possesses an anti-ulcerogenic effect that could be a reason this health benefit of avocado leaves is effective to cure ulcer especially in some folk medicine.
Cures kidney stone
Kidney stone is a serious health problem that can lead to another fatal disease such as kidney failure. If you are facing a problem with kidney stone, consuming avocado leaf can be a good alternative since it contains many phytochemicals such as alkaloid, saponin and flavonoids that have ability to destroy the stone inside your kidney and make a better function of the organ.
Maintains healthy and smooth skin
Avocado fruit is one of the best natural skincare that we can use but who knows that the health benefits of avocado leaves is also good for your skin care routine? Hence, avocado leaf contains many properties such as antioxidant that can bring smoothness to your skin and keep it from aging.
Relieves back pain
Reports show that avocado leaves contain an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect that can reduce the pain of several body parts, including back pain. Another French study also found that the health benefits of avocado leaves extract can also stimulate cartilage repair and cure the pain as the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs.
The phytochemical content especially the quercetin, a natural bioflavonoid in avocado leaves possess the benefits of reducing swelling that usually occur in the body during recovery process of wound such as after surgery. It also can help to minimise and avoid the effect of free radicals which leads to skin damage and worse inflammation in the body.
Beyond lowering blood sugar, the health benefits of avocado leaves also can help to lower the blood pressure in hypertension patient. Avocado leaves contain magnesium that can help to lower the blood the blood pressure and reduce the chance of suffering hypertension. Researches, avocado leaves can be a good medicine in reduce hypertension and normalize the cardiovascular system.
Maintain black hair
The leaves of avocado contain some pigment which is good to maintain a black shiny hair. It can also be a good hair mask to solve your dull and bad hair problem. How it works? Just mash some of young avocado leaves into a thick paste then rub it on your hair before you wash your hair.
Reduces the risk of cancer
Avocado leaves contain strong antioxidant effect which possess by the presence of its flavonoid and phenols content. The antioxidant of the avocado leaves can reduce the free radical effect and protect the cells from damage. Even so, the health benefits of avocado leaves on cancer still need more plenty of study.
Avocado farms could produce a gross income of N280, 000 to N5, 250,000 per acre, and require five or six acre-feet of water per acre, per year. While speaking to Orient Market Guide, Mrs. Veronica Eze noted that pear business was one of the lucrative fruit businesses one can venture into due to its market demand. ‘I have been in this business of selling fruits for up to five years and since then Avacado pear has been one of the fruits I can sell easily because a lot of people like it. You can consume it for different ways and for that reason you see people rushing’.
Most of avocado production in Nigeria is done in rural areas but there is a huge potential for commercial production for export and industries. They could both serve as a source of foreign exchange for the country. There would also be need for government buy-in to ensure that the policies and programs favour avocado production.
Presently, marketing of avocado fruit constitutes more than a significant volume of economic activities in rural areas where it is produced during season. It is important to state that opportunities exist for commercial production of avocado for export. Also, the processing of avocado into oil and other products could provide a significant source of foreign exchange earnings in Nigeria. However, for this to be feasible, necessary institutional considerations and arrangements must be made.
If harnessed properly, avocado’s industrial potential can contribute immensely to furthering Nigeria’s economic growth through exportation.
WHERE YOU CAN GET THIS WONDEFUL FRUIT
Currently, avocado has not been produced for industrial purposes but rather for household consumption or sale at local markets in Nigeria. It is can be cultivated in large quantities in the south eastern and central parts of Nigeria, including Ondo, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Cross River, Osun and Oyo, that have about 10 per cent of natural vegetation.
However, there are 12 states where avocado is rare. These are Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Jigawa, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Zamfara. From available statistics, sustainable development of avocado processing facilities can take place in all the South Eastern states and in Edo, Akwa-Ibom, Delta and Cross River states.
These states can support intensive and profitable plantation establishment of avocado species for use as an industrial raw material in the country. States like Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Bayelsa and Rivers can, however, be made available if intensive research on agronomic properties of the plant species are made for large scale plantation and establishment.