Hass Avocado farmers in Murang’a have praised the county government for drafting a bill to control the sector, eliminate middlemen and increase their profits.

The farmers said on Tuesday the bill that has been tabled in the county assembly will restore order to the sector that generates  Sh5 billion in the county every year.

They said the law will improve their earnings by allowing them to sell directly to buyers, doing away middlemen. It will allow the county to establish avocado collection centres and control harvesting periods to curb immature harvesting.

Farmer James Marigi said he has been selling his fruits to a company that pays Sh10 per fruit regardless of the size.

Marigi said, however, most local farmers have been selling to brokers at Sh5 per piece.

The proposed law, he said, will compel buyers to buy his fruits according to their size, earning him more money.

The middlemen fuel avocado theft, causing youths to raid farms and steal the fruits at night and on Sundays when the farmers are in church.

“When the sector remains uncontrolled, farmers are left at the mercy of brokers who buy fruits at a throwaway price,” Marigi said, adding that the law will prevent middlemen from exploiting farmers.

He commended the ban on immature harvesting which he said causes huge losses when brokers reject the fruits.

Marigi said the farmers have been imposing the ban themselves during their meetings but some get lured by brokers and end up selling before the recommended time, thus reducing their earnings.

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He urged the county government not to relent until the law is passed and implemented.

James Ngugi said they have been spending nights in their farms every season to stop thieves from stealing their fruits.

The new law will make it impossible for brokers and vendors to buy fruits which will deny thieves the market, he said.

Ngugi, who does not belong to a farmers’ group, sells his avocadoes at Sh7 per fruit which he said is too low.

“We have to plead with the buyers to buy at a good price which puts us at their mercy,” he said.

Halima Nyambura said the main challenge is immature harvesting that leaves farmers with piles of unusable fruits.

“The buyers sometimes harvest at night using flashlights and after sorting, they discard all the immature ones and buy only the mature ones,” she said.

County chief agro-marketing officer Bernard Kariuki said the law is being supported by genuine farmers but opposed by brokers.

He said after heavily investing in the production of the fruit, the county government is now concentrating on streamlining its marketing.

“The county has identified about eight buyers who have agreed to offer Sh15 to Sh50 per piece,” he said.

Interested buyers will draw up an agreement with particular farmers’ groups under county supervision after agreeing on the prices of their fruits.

Kariuki asked farmers who do not intend to join avocado groups to demand similar payments from brokers to make the market even.

The county government will also issue farmers with grading rings and train them to grade their fruits to help them determine their prices.

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Governor Mwangi wa Iria, however, accused Senator Irungu Kang’ata of working with brokers to frustrate the bill. He also accused some MCAs of working as avocado brokers and being against the bill.

Kang’ata on Tuesday said the bill micromanages farm use by controlling the cutting of avocado trees. He said it violates the tenets of a free market by restricting farmers’ choices of buyers.

Wa Iria asked why the senator opposed a bill aimed at empowering farmers without consulting them.

“Why is the senator fighting something that will work for the good of farmers?” he asked.

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The farmers said on Tuesday the bill that has been tabled in the county assembly will restore order to the sector that generates  Sh5 billion in...
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