Murang’a in renewed bid to eradicate avocado theft
Avocado farmers from Murang’a have raised an alarm over increased theft of the product which has seen them incur huge losses.
They said the thieves are raiding their farms at night and picking the fruits even the ones which have not matured.
John Mwaniki, chairman of the Avocado Farmer Association said they are losing close to 10 tonnes of the fruits to the thieves who are selling them to the unlicensed brokers.
He said the trend has been a thorn in the flesh of the farmers and if not curbed it might cripple the sub-sector.
The trouble, Mwaniki said started after the association began selling their fruits directly to the exporters who they have signed a contract with and the middlemen were locked out.
“Initially, we used to sell our products through the brokers but when we changed our channel, they could not get fruits to take to market” he added. Mwaniki expressed fears that they might lose the contract with the exporter as they are not able to supply the required quantity attributing it to farm theft.
Mwaniki spoke at the Murang’a County Assembly during a meeting with Speaker Nduati Kariuki where he together with other farmers went to present a petition to have a law put in place to curb avocado theft.
The speaker on his end said the Assembly will review the Avocado Bill of 2019 which had been formulated to regulate the sector.
“The Bill came to assembly and we scrutinised it but it was never implemented as the farmers felt there were clauses which were not favouring them,” Kariuki said.
“We shall review the bill and make some amendments so that it can be adopted as a County bylaw and this shall help protect the avocado farmers,” added the speaker.
Among the things to be included, he said would be to ensure there is a record of the transportation of the avocado from the farm to the market and this will require one to obtain a permit from the administration officers.
Also, anyone who will be found in huge possession of avocado without proper documentation of his operations shall be charged with handling stolen goods.
John Mwangi, secretary of the association said farmers are likely to lose out on the international market due to pre-mature harvesting of the fruit.