Officers from Agriculture Foods Authority (AFA) have intercepted three containers suspected to ferry immature avocados.
The containers with 75 tonnes of avocados are being held in Mombasa where they were intercepted as investigations are commenced to establish if the fruits were ready for export.
The AFA Interim Director, Antony Mureithi said the fruits are suspected to be harvested from Kandara in Murang’a County and were about to be exported before they were intercepted in Mombasa.
The consignment, Mureithi noted will be thoroughly inspected to ascertain if the avocadoes attained maturity level needed to qualify for export.
Mureithi said farmers have been advised not to harvest immature avocados as the move may prompt international buyers to ban avocados from Kenya.
He observed that a team of experts is on the ground to reinforce ban of harvesting avocado before they mature.
“If the avocados in the containers will be found to be immature, disciplinary measures will be taken against the dealers for going against regulations issued to guide harvesting of avocados,” added Mureithi.
The Murang’a County Government last December warned farmers of being incited by brokers to harvest immature avocados.
Governor Mwangi –wa- Iria had stated that his Administration will issue time lines on when farmers will start harvesting their fruits so as to avoid entry of immature avocados into the international market.
The Avocado Society of Kenya Chief Executive Officer, Ernest Muthomi said international buyers may ban Kenyan avocados if those exported are found to be immature.
He said members of his Society are adequately advised and educated on the right time to harvest the fruits.
“Kenyan avocados are of better quality but if immature fruits penetrate into the market, buyers may shun buying our fruits. We advise farmers not to fall prey to brokers,” added Muthomi.
He said export of immature fruits was banned to ensure farmers supply the market with the best, for better returns and should the unwanted products be found, the consignments are shipped back to the country of origin
The Murang’a County Director of Avocado, Fredrick Munyua said they have issued a notice banning harvesting of avocadoes and circulated in Kandara one of the leading areas in avacado production.
“There is need to educate the farmers on the regulations, to ensure there is sanity in the sector, especially when comes to matters of quality,” said the Director.
By Bernard Munyao