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A worker sorts avocados at a farm factory in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga province, about 51 miles (82 km) north of the Swaziland border, South Africa, June 14, 2018. VOA

Kenyan farmer Alexander Muchiri tends 30 avocado trees he planted seven years ago on his farm in Muranga County. In previous years, most of his avocados were sold locally, providing a modest income for him, his wife and five children.

Then in April, Kenya signed a deal to export avocados to China, making Kenya the only African nation to sell the fruit to the huge Chinese consumer market. With that in mind, Muchiri says he will scale up production by planting more trees.

He says if they plant more avocados, there will be a market for them. In previous years, brokers would come, pick the larger fruits and leave the smaller ones on the farms with no one to sell to, Muchiri said, wasting lots of fruit.

Potential buyers visit

About 2 kilometers from Muchiri’s farm, Beatrice Mugure inspects her 300 avocado trees. She used to grow coffee on her eight-acre farm but switched to avocados a few years ago as the price of coffee dropped and the market for avocados expanded.

Her avocado trees are about three years old, Mugure said, and are giving her their first fruits. She says potential buyers have come to her farm several times to check the avocados and pick samples, and they will be coming back for the harvest. The potential buyers Mugure is talking about are private exporting companies.

The catch

Kenya’s Ministry of Trade says that the Chinese market will take in more than 40 percent of Kenya’s avocado crop, putting Kenya in the top rank of avocado exporters. But there is one catch, says Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Industrialization Peter Munya.

“Usually when you want to export something outside, there are standards you have to meet and when they came to assess the situation of avocados, there were found to be some flies, which made it difficult for us to be allowed to export raw avocados, and a decision was made to have frozen avocados exported,” Munya said.

Farmers or traders are required to freeze the fruits to minus 30 degrees Celsius to get rid of the pests and minus 18 degrees for transit. Many farmers worry that the strict requirement will prevent them from directly exporting the produce.

ALSO READ: US Institute of Peace Trains Kenyan Women to Help Fight Terrorist Radicalization Campaigns

Munya says they will help Kenyan farmers who do not have facilities to freeze their crops for export to China. “We are looking at building capacity for Kenya National Trading Cooperation to support small-scale farmers to aggregate and that’s already in the budget,” he said. “We have resources to support KNTC to upgrade its warehouses and then export.”

Kenyan exporters say they are also planning to make investments in cold storage to meet the requirements for accessing the Chinese market. In the meantime, Kenyan avocado farmers will rely on farmer cooperatives to find other markets willing to buy their produce fresh from the farm. (VOA)


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A Jain monk offering ablution to Bahubali in Shravanabelagola

Atop the Vindhyagiri hills in Karnataka, a 57-foot-tall statue stands. This is the statue of Lord Gomateshwara, or Bahubali, as he is known to the local patrons. The surrounding area is filled with temples where each of the many Jain Tirthankaras sits.

Sharavanabelagola is named after a pond that is located at the foothills. 'Bel' in Kannada means white, and 'kola' means pond. This is a sacred water body to the activities of the temples. It is a tourist attraction and a pilgrim destination located 85 kilometres from Mysore, and 145 kilometres from the capital, Bangalore.

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The aim of the book is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

By Siddhi Jain

Delhi-based author Pritisha Borthakur is set to release her new book, 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories'. The 1,404-word children's book was put together to address a new kind of societal debacle in the family system. The author says the aim is to teach children that families can exist in different forms, and show them how to accept the diversity in family backgrounds.

The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.

Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.

Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background

four children standing on dirt during daytime 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

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Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Clean and maintained hands boost confidence in daily life activities.

If you feel that clean and well-groomed hands are just an essential prerequisite for women, you might like to think twice. Men should equally pay attention to their hands because our hand houses 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimeter of its skin. You can easily assume what havoc it can create in our body because in India we have the culture of eating with our hands and spaces beneath nails can become breeding heaven for germs. Moreover, clean and maintained hands boost confidence in their daily life activities. Therefore, it's important to keep your hands clean irrespective of your gender by washing or sanitizing at regular intervals. And, to keep them groomed, you don't have to visit a salon.

Rajesh U Pandya, Managing Director, KAI India, gives easy and completely doable tips to follow at home:

* Refrain from harsh soaps: You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. Your soap can have a moisturizing element in it like aloe vera or shea butter. Ensure that you're washing your hands with normal water as hot water can make your hand's skin dry and scaly.

Soap bars organic You should be mindful of the soap you are using to wash your hands. | Photo by Aurélia Dubois on Unsplash

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