Monday, February 6, 2023
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Stakeholders call on stiff penalties to curb avocado theft

Murang’a farmers are calling for combined efforts by all relevant stakeholders to restrain increased theft of avocado crops.

The farmers are now appealing to the local county government, elected leaders and security agencies to come together and draw up a strategy that will end the crime which not only targets avocadoes but other farm produce as well.

During a press briefing on Monday, the farmers claimed that despite their efforts to prevent the theft, their fruits are being stolen from farms even during daytime.

The criminal activity, farmers observed, can only be ended if all relevant stakeholders play a part to ensure farm produce is protected from daring thieves.

They argued that due to theft, they could not produce targeted tonnage of avocado per harvesting season.

Former Murang’a county speaker and also an avocado farmer Nduati Kariuki said the theft is perpetuated by a group of youth who are addicted to drugs.

Mr. Nduati noted that the young people cannot work for wages forcing local farmers to import work force from outside the county.

“People who are involved in these crimes are people who are not willing to work even if they are offered jobs. This has resulted in importation of the work force from outside the county by farmers,” observed Nduati.

He explained that one way to eliminate theft of farm produce is to fight drug abuse among youth from the area.

“Liquor and drugs are not only destroying our future since the future relies on the youth but also destroying our economy,” Nduati said.

On his part, chairman of Murang’a county avocado union, John Mwaniki divulged that the union failed to meet its avocado production target last year due to theft.

Mr. Mwaniki observed that members of the union who are more than 3,000 managed to produce 258 tons against the targeted 600 tons.

“Farmers affiliated to the union have the capacity to produce more than 600 tons of avocado annually but the production has gone down due to rampant theft,” Mwaniki said adding that the thieves will destroy the reputation of the country on production of quality avocado since they steal immature fruits.

“Avocado can earn Murang’a county more than Sh5 billion annually but currently it’s hard to get Sh2 billion since the crime has led to the presence of immature avocado in the market.

“Multinational companies are currently shying off from buying Kenyan avocado since some of them do not meet the required standards.” Mwaniki further narrated.

He called for the assenting of the avocado bill, which was passed by the previous county assembly to streamline the sector.

“The bill calls for licensing of all buyers and farmers and with this, it will help to curb increased theft which is perpetuated by unlicensed buyers and brokers,” stated the Mwaniki.

An official with Alivado Company Munene Gicharu revealed his firm since last year has incurred losses of more than 50 million due to theft of avocado.

He said exporting of low quality fruits has also prompted many international buyers to avoid purchasing Kenyan avocado.

Mr. Munene called for concerned government bodies to ensure regulations governing standards of farm produce saying brokers and unlicensed buyers should be cut down from operation.

By Bernard Munyao

 

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