Avocado farmers in Murang’a have a reason to smile following improved payments for their crop.
The contracted exporters and marketers are buying a piece of avocado at between Sh8 and Sh10, making it the best payment offered to small-scale farmers in the country.
Hass variety is the most preferred in the market by the eight exporting companies that have entered into a contract with the Murang’a County government on behalf of the farmers. Farmer Ruru Mwaura is among those who have benefitted from the contract programme. He said he pocketed more than Sh18,000 after selling 2,000 pieces of avocado.
“I sold the avocados to a listed marketer, and I received the best payment ever. This is a huge step after years of exploitation by the middle men,” said Mr Mwaura.
Jane Waiyego from Ndunyu ya Chege in Gatanga said for many years, she has suffered exploitation by middlemen, who bought a piece at Sh1. “We had to comply as we had nowhere else to sell our produce. With the contracted marketers, we have a bright future,” said Ms Waiyego.
Kandara and Gatanga districts are the leading producers of avocado in Kenya. In a move to kick out the middlemen from the chain, individual farmers have signed contracts with the marketers.
Three months ago, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria initiated a programme to cushion small-scale farmers from exploitation after it emerged that avocado from Kenya was attracting the international market.
Mr Wa Iria said he was saddened to learn that farmers were selling a piece of the fruits to middle men at Sh1.50, subjecting them to abject poverty, with the same earning better prices in the international market. “We are planning to establish avocado selling points to block the middlemen from accessing the farms,” said Wa Iria.
The County Executive for Agro Marketing and Trade Edward Muiruri said farmers are paid as per the contract signed between the exporters and the county government.
Two months ago, Deputy Governor Gakure Monyo shocked farmers when he divulged that in his visit to Turin in Italy, he bought a piece of avocado from Kenya at an equivalent of Sh300 per piece.