In Kenya, 2,000 elephants might no longer be able to use a wildlife corridor that lets them travel among three national parks.
The reason is the avocado.
Kenya’s Avocado Exports
On approximately 175 acres, near Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, KiliAco Fresh received permission from the local government to grow avocados. The next step will be clearing the land and constructing an electric fence. The fence would block the Kimana Wildlife Corridor.
Avocados have become increasingly important to Kenya’s economy. When prices rose by 33 percent from 2019 to 2020, producers boosted exports by 15 percent. Now, with the incentive to sell even more, farmers have tried to expand harvests by selling immature lower quality fruit. Although regulators responded with quality control, still you can see why there is a drive to expand acreage.
Although not close to Mexico, Kenya is among the world’s largest avocado producers:
Looking back, you can see the trend. Kenya is producing more avocados:
With its numbers heading straight up, Kenya became Africa’s biggest avocado exporter:
It all adds up to the incentive to grow more avocados.
Our Bottom Line: The Tragedy of the Commons
Whether it’s air pollution, an overgrazed pasture, or a wildlife corridor used by 2,000 elephants, we tend to abuse shared resources. People accept the damage because they privately benefit from their behavior. The result is a tragedy of the commons.
But there are some solutions.
Through Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE program, local communities got the use-rights to wildlife. As a result, partnerships with hunting groups generated much-needed village revenue and the incentive to increase wildlife populations. With new incentives, in CAMPFIRE areas, the elephant population doubled.
Perhaps avocado markets just need some local competition.
My sources and more: My morning listen to the BBC World News report introduced me to the elephant avocado conflict. From there, this BBC article on avocados came in handy as did these from Yahoo, Business Daily, and this paper on Kenya’s avocado exports.