The Murang’a County government is in the process of drafting regulations to regulate the avocado industry.
The proposed law aims at protecting the avocado farmers from unscrupulous middlemen who take advantage of their ignorance to buy fruits that are yet to mature.
According to Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, the proposed law will also seek to establish an avocado protection wing that will be in charge of, among other things, arrest, prosecution and fining those who will flout the regulations established by the proposed Bill.
The county boss said the drafting of the Bill is almost complete, adding that his administration will forward it to the county assembly and if successfully approved, it will be effected by March 2020 when the avocado harvesting season begins.
“The Bill, which is being prepared by stakeholders in the avocado sector, will define the harvesting dates for the fruits and [will provide for] creation of an avocado protection wing that will penalise and even impose a ban to markets and exporters who harvest the immature fruits thus negatively affecting the market for the farmers,” he said.
The Bill, once it becomes law, will also force all interested buyers to purchase the avocados based on grading instead of the current situation where the fruits are bought at an average price. This is intended to encourage farmers to take avocado farming seriously.
Speaking at Kakuzi Company when he presided over avocado farmers’ bonus issuance ceremony, the governor said through partnership with the company, the avocado fruit has overtaken other crops like tea and coffee in the region.
This year, the company bought avocados at Sh48 per fruit while they issued bonus payments of Sh88 million to about 2,000 farmers.
“Our partnership with the company has seen farmers in and outside Murang’a who take their produce here earn better returns. To compliment farmers’ efforts, we have issued about 1.2 million tree seedlings to increase the crop population and we project to increase the avocado value from Sh5 billion yearly to Sh20 billion and this will be realised in the next three to four years,” the governor said.
On his part Kakuzi CEO Christopher Flowers hailed the partnership between the company and Murang’a County, saying farmers have benefited a lot.
He urged farmers to continue growing the best quality avocados for better returns access to the international market.
“Through the partnership with the governor, we have seen the promotion of avocados in Murang’a and nationally and the farmers have fetched better returns. We encourage farmers to produce the best quality since we can’t exhaust the market internationally,” Mr Flowers said.
He said Kenya, which overtook South Africa in production of avocados, can only feed six per cent of the world market.
Mr Wa Iria was recently voted the avocado ambassador in an election preside over by the Avocado Society of Kenya.