Home » Kenyan sugar mogul Jaswant Rai takes on Kakuzi’s dominance with entry into avocado farming

Kenyan sugar mogul Jaswant Rai takes on Kakuzi’s dominance with entry into avocado farming

by Feyisayo Ajayi
Jaswant Rai

Renowned Kenyan sugar magnate Jaswant Rai is strategically diversifying his business portfolio with his latest foray into avocado farming through Menengai Orchards located in Nakuru County.

The move demonstrates Rai’s unwavering commitment to expanding his business empire and consolidating his position as a key player in the fresh produce industry.

Menengai Orchards, which is owned by Rai, who ranks as one of Kenya’s richest businessmen, is among the fresh produce companies poised to tap into the highly profitable Chinese market.

The news follows the recent opening of the Chinese market to Kenyan fresh avocado exports, which was granted last year.

The recent foray into avocado farming by Rai is perfectly timed, as there is a surging demand for these fleshy fruits, particularly in the Asian market.

Kenya’s exports of avocados to China have skyrocketed, reaching an impressive Ksh7 billion ($56 million) in just three months to October 2022, surpassing the earnings recorded during the first seven months of the year.

With current cultivation of 380 acres and a goal to expand to more than 600 acres in the near future, the orchard is poised to rival Kakuzi, a dominant exporter of avocados and other agricultural goods owned in part by Kenyan media tycoon John Kimani.

David Jean Louis, a manager at Menengai Orchards, disclosed that the orchard owned by Jaswant Rai is poised for growth in the near future. “We are planning to expand our farm in coming years, and we are also looking at incorporating the local community in planting the avocado for export,” he said.

As part of the move to further expand his business empire, Jaswant Rai through Sukari Industries, a privately held sugar manufacturing company linked to Rai Group, Kenya’s second-largest sugar miller, is seeking regulatory approval to establish a new Ksh5.13-billion ($42.2 million) sugar cane milling factory in Narok, a town west of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city.

As part of its efforts to ensure the factory’s timely completion in accordance with its expansion plans, the group has already purchased a 20.195-hectare plot of land on which to build the 3,000-TCD factory as well as a staff quarter for technical and managerial personnel.

The project, which is a major win for Kenya, has the potential to employ up to 400 people. Its completion will drive growth and development of the agricultural value chain, as well as the local economy, which is still reeling from the effects of the recent war in Ukraine on the food supply chain.

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