Murang’a County Commissioner Patrick Mukuria has ordered chiefs from avocado growing zones to crackdown on unlicensed avocado buying centres.
The commissioner, speaking during Madaraka Day celebrations held at Kahuro grounds, observed that the centres have perpetuated theft of the avocado, thus subjecting farmers to huge losses.
He noted that there is increased theft of avocados from farms in Kandara and Gatanga sub-counties.
Currently, farmers are harvesting their avocados, and thieves are invading farms at night and when the owners are not around to steal the fruits.
“Chiefs are aware of brokers who are not licensed and are thriving through buying stolen avocados. Those buying centres have to be closed immediately, and the owners face the law. There are procedures for buying and selling avocados set by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA),” said Mukuria.
Murang’a is among the top producers of avocado, especially the Hass variety, which is fetching good returns in the international market.
The increased theft, Mukuria noted, can demotivate farmers to abandon the plant which is giving them lucrative returns.
“As a security team, we will not sit back and watch farmers being exploited by thieves and unscrupulous business people. The law must be adhered to. Those who are stealing are, unfortunately, our young people, and especially those who have indulged themselves in excessive alcoholism,” stated the commissioner.
Last year, avocado farmers petitioned the local county assembly, seeking the enactment of policies which would streamline the buying and selling of avocados.
Among the policies was that any buyer should have proof and clear details of the source of avocados. The policies also prohibited transporting avocados using open pickups.
Meanwhile, the commissioner warned local residents against falling for the tricks of some religious cults.
He observed that due to social and economic difficulties, some people fall prey to some groups hoping to get better lives.
“No one should tell you not to take your sick child to the hospital or educate your children. The government will take action when we find you have not taken your children to school,” he cautioned.
By Bernard Munyao