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Avocado farmers eyeing international markets

A section of farmers from Kigumo Sub County, Murang’a County are planning to register a company to export their avocado directly to international markets.

The farmers, majority of who are small scale tea farmers, want the government to assist them get the required documentation to help to export their avocado without involving middlemen and local processors.

The farmers allied to Aberdare Avocado Farmers Group claimed that they have for long been exploited by middlemen who buy their fruits at a meager price.

Led by their chairman, Onesmus Kibunda, the farmers have mooted plans to have a company that will help in collection, packaging and marketing their avocado to overseas countries.

They argued that venturing in avocado farming is a way of diversifying from tea growing thus increasing income.

The small scale tea farmers have avocado trees in their tea farms and now are targeting to fully venture in the lucrative export market.

Murang’a is one of the major producers of avocado, with the county earning more than Sh. 9 billion annually through the sale of avocado.

During their meeting on Saturday, the farmers said they want relevant government agencies to lockout middlemen whom they said are perpetrating harvesting of immature fruits.

They said selling low quality of avocado will prompt international buyers to shun from sourcing the fruits from Kenya.

Kibuna said they have lost millions of shillings through manipulation by middlemen and as farmers are ready to establish their own company to market their produce.

“Majority of local tea farmers have embraced planting of avocado trees targeting more returns. They want to be in charge of the trade to end the era of exploitation by agents who buy their fruits at a throwaway price,” he said.

Kibuna, also the chairman of Ikumbi tea factory, said they have engaged the services of an agronomist for the purpose of producing the best fruits for the market.

One of the farmers, Naomi Njeri Waihenya said women should take advantage and plant more avocado trees to benefit from the expanding market.

“Avocado will help us get more earnings from what we are paid for tea. I challenge my fellow farmers to plant more avocados since the local climate is conducive for the crop,” added Njeri.

Another farmer, Annie Nduta recounted how the middlemen have been working with the youth stealing the produce from their farms.

Nduta observed if production and selling of avocado is well managed, farmers will earn more returns.

On his part, Peter Kibe and who sells avocado seedlings saying they want to partner with international buyers who will be sourcing their produce from the farms.

“Farmers in some neighbouring counties have entered into contracts with international companies which buy their avocado directly from farms. This has helped the farmers get better returns as compared to what we get from middlemen,” stated Kibe.

By Bernard Munyao

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