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Poor transportation compromising quality of avocado in the country

The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has raised concerns over poor methods used to transport avocados from farms to packing houses.

Director of horticultural crops directorate in AFA Benjamin Tito said some buyers are using open pickups to transport avocado, something which affects quality of the fruits.

Speaking during a sensitization forum in Murang’a, Tito explained that AFA has outlined strategies to ensure the quality of Kenyan avocados is protected through employment of the best way of transportation.

He observed that avocados need to be well packaged in crates and be transported in a well-designed vehicle to ensure the quality of fruits is guaranteed.

“Kenya is ranked position one in Africa when it comes to production and exportation of quality avocados but with poor transportation, we may lose international buyers due to poor quality,” said Tito in a meeting, which brought together various stakeholders.

Tito said they have liaised with law enforcers to mount road blocks and arrest people who would be found transporting avocados using open pickups.

He explained that according to crops and horticultural regulations of 2022, avocados are not supposed to be transported in open pickups, urging security officers to help to curb the problem.

“Once we export poor quality avocados, we will lose better prices and thus affect farmers’ earnings. We request security officers to arrest those who are found using pickups to transport the fruits. Also on transportation, the transporters should have proof where they have sourced the avocados and this will minimize stealing the fruits from farms,” he further explained.

Smallholder avocado farmers, Tito noted, have been affected by theft of the fruits from farmers saying the stealing has led to selling of immature avocados.

“International buyers are against immature avocados and once we export them, we are at risk of losing our buyers. Let’s help us tame this challenge,” he added.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Avocado Society of Kenya Ernest Muthomi said the country is well known internationally as one of the best producers of quality avocados.

He said the good reputation is currently under threat due to increased farm theft of avocados and urged all stakeholders to work together and stop the menace.

“Farmers are losing a lot of income due to increased theft. We will work together with security agents to protect avocados in farms. All transporters must be registered and have permits to allow them do the business,” stated Muthomi

Murang’a County Commissioner Karuku Ngumo promised to work with relevant government bodies to fight theft of avocados and crackdown pickups used to transport the fruits.

He said the problem has been raised by farmers in the recent past and asked all those entrusted to transport the fruits to get legal permits from the relevant bodies.

“No pickup will be allowed to transport avocados in Murang’a. Transporters should get well-designed vehicles for that work.” he remarked.

Chairman of Avocado Cooperative Union of Murang’a Mr. John Mwaniki Gitau divulged that avocado is becoming a major income earner in the country.

He accused brokers who are perpetuating stealing of avocados from farms and called for a crackdown of illegal buyers who have opened collection centres in avocado growing zones.

“The government should also regulate harvesting of avocados so as to ensure only mature fruits get into markets,” he noted.

By Anita Omwenga and Bernard Munyao

 

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