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FORQLAB: research avocado value chain in Kenya

HAS green academy participates until May 2024 in the FORQLAB project. This project focuses on food loss/waste and food quality in the Kenyan avocado value chain.


In a series of graduation assignments, students, lecturers and education and industry partners will take a close look at avocado cultivation in central and western Kenya. The students will look for technical solutions throughout the whole avocado chain to minimise current losses. The amount lost after harvest is unfortunately still very high, and avocado quality must also be improved. Our students are working closely together with students and lecturers from Inholland University of Applied Sciences and Meru University in Kenya.

Collaboration between educational institutions

The project is a great example of collaboration between all green academies and universities of applied sciences. Taskforce for Applied Research SIA (Regieorgaan SIA) called for research into food loss / waste and food quality in Kenya. Marjo Baeten and Peter Bouma from HAS International Projects (HIP) answered this call and co-wrote the proposal together with project coordinator Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, Aeres University of Applied Sciences and Inholland University of Applied Sciences.

Partners in Kenya were easy to find, thanks to the intensive and enduring partnership between HAS, Egerton University and Meru University. Project leader Peter Bouma is responsible for overseeing the content and progress of each graduation assignment, so that it is possible to present a complete and coherent research project in two years’ time. The project started in early June 2022.

Eight graduation assignments

“In partnership with Inholland, we’re focusing on the avocado value chain with a total of eight graduation research assignments", explains Peter. “Students from both institutions work together in groups on a single business case. Aeres and Van Hall Larenstein will work together on the dairy value chain and deliver a total of 22 individual research assignments.”

As Peter explains, these chains have been selected for a reason. “Both chains are reasonably well organised and our aim is to develop a model that is scalable for other product chains and easy to replicate. For example, think of the more complex tomato or green bean chains. In addition, we are committed to developing two Living Labs, in which the industry can work together with local authorities, education and research services, to create sustainable solutions to complex problems.”

Advice based on research results

The project focuses on two regions in Kenya. “Meru county- in central Kenya - is an established agricultural area. Nandi county in western Kenya is relatively new,” explains Peter. “It’s interesting to compare and contrast the two locations, and zoom in on their similarities and differences. This involves working closely with four cooperatives with a total of more than 1,000 small scale growers. The students are mapping out the avocado chain in both regions, whilst providing advice on implementing successful chain innovations based on their research findings and aimed at sustainability.”

An added bonus is the collaboration with Meru University and Egerton University. “They have shown a great interest in our teaching methods, in both problem based education and project education in collaboration with businesses. Working together allows us to learn from one another and improve education in Kenya by providing teaching packages for the universities, as well as teaching modules for secondary schools and short courses for small scale growers.”

Study trip for Professional Assignment

Recently, 5 students an 2 lecturers from HAS green academy visited Kenya as part of their Professional Assignments for the FORQLAB project. The group visited two areas in Kenya: Nandi district - an upcoming avocado producing area- and Meru district, where avocados are being grown for a longer time, and where the value chain is more advanced. One team studies how to reduce waste streams and how to add value to wasted avocados in Kenya. The second team studies if and how small and medium farmer cooperatives can best supply quality avocados to the export market.

The group also visited the Meru University of Science an Technology (MUST) being one of the FORQLAB partners. They were warmly welcomed by MUST students that will all perform an individual research as contribution to the FORQLAB project. They were able to exchange experiences extensively. Before their departure, the students and teachers - like every visiting partner of MUST - each planted a tree on the university grounds: a beautiful contribution to a growing memorial forest.

Collaboration partners

The following partners are collaborating in the FORQLAB project : HAS green academy, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Aeres University of Applied Sciences, Meru University of Science & Technology, Egerton University, Abogeta-West Coop, Nandi Coop, Satori, Specialfruits, Airflo – Kenya, Greenport West-Holland, Kitinda Dairy, Kaptama Dairy, Githunguri Dairy, Ante, Q-Point. Associate partners: Alumni Network, KALRO, NFP, TVET-A, Wageningen Livestock Research.

More information about FORQLAB on the project website

Contact us

  • Marjo Baeten

    Lecturer Spatial and Environmental Planning and program manager HAS International Projects