A section of
have expressed optimism that a proposed bill aimed to protect them from brokers will boost their income from avocado farming.
The farmers now want the process of enacting the bill hastened and a law enacted before the next avocado harvesting period.
Speaking to members of press on Tuesday, the farmers said brokers have been buying their produce at throwaway prices for a long time.
The proposed county Avocado Production and Processing Bill 2020 is targeting to streamline production and marketing of avocado in Murang’a County.
The bill seeks to have specified buyers of the fruits at a guaranteed minimum price of not less than Sh15 per unit.
One of the farmers, Fredrick Mugira said if well implemented the bill will also ensure theft of avocado is minimized.
He blamed brokers for increased theft of the fruits from their farmers as the middlemen don’t consider the origin of the avocado brought to their stores.
“The bill is good but there is need for some amendments before it becomes a law. About 90 percent of the proposed law we support it and we want necessary changes be done so that farmers can get maximum profit from their produce,” added Mugira.
Another farmer, Halima Wanjiku said in the past brokers have been harvesting their fruits without considering maturity levels.
Entrance of immature avocado in the market, Wanjiku said, has led to huge losses as brokers pay meager prices leaving farmers counting losses.
“This bill will ensure we get specific times to harvest our fruits and that also the avocado are graded before prices are given. In the past an avocado was selling at five shillings, which is a big loss,” added Wanjiku.
Speaking elsewhere, the Murang’a governor, Mwangi wa Iria cautioned leaders who are against the bill, saying they don’t understand the challenges many farmers experience.
Wa Iria said he will defend the bill until it becomes a law despite spirited opposition from brokers.
“The brokers have started to fight the bill, they are even using some of local leaders to oppose the bill, but as county government we will win over those who want to continue oppressing and exploiting our farmers,” he added.
He accused the Murang’a Senator, Irungu Kang’ata of being used by brokers to object the bill, while asking him to first read and understand the bill before giving his input.
On his part, the Senator opposed the bill, saying it is against the functions of Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).
In a statement, Kang’ata termed the bill which requires all buyers to get permit from the county government and also farmers to get permits before cutting an avocado tree as draconian.
“This bill may make buyers to shun avocado from Murang’a since it does not provide a competitive environment and also the many requirements may bar prospective companies from the county,” read part of the senator’s statement.
By Bernard Munyao