Farmers protest Kenya-China avocado deal

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta

Avocado farmers now want a recent deal signed between Kenya and the Chinese government for the importation of avocados reviewed.

The farmers have faulted the stringent entry rules imposed by the Chinese government before Kenyan avocado farmers can access their market.

They say the recent deal between Kenya and China for the exportation of the fruit was not in favor of the county adding local farmers are likely to miss out.

Under the deal, farmers will be required to install machines and coolers for peeling and freezing of the fruit before exported.

China also wants Kenyan farmers and traders to freeze the fruits to negative 30 degree Celsius after peeling off the skin and chill further to negative 18 degrees while in transit.

John Karanja, an avocado farmer in Githunguri, Kiambu County, said the stringent measures by the Chinese government would keep away many potential farmers from exporting the produce.

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“We wonder why they have put such stringent measures that many of us cannot be able to meet. When the deal was signed we were very optimistic that we would finally get ample market for our produce. It seems we were wrong,” said Karanja.

Martin Mbugua another avocado farmer in Lari, called for government intervention to relax the requirements by the Chinese authorities.

He said failure to review the rules would see the trade deal collapse adding not many small-scale avocado farmers would be able to meet them.

“It is our belief that President Uhuru Kenyatta meant well when he signed the deal. We therefore as farmers are appealing to him to intervene so that the stringent rules can be relaxed” said Mbugua.

Another farmer Agnes Wanjiku said the deal only came to favor the large scale avocado farmers who could afford to meet the requirements.

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) which will oversee the export of avocados said the conditions set by China could end up limiting small-scale farmers in the country from accessing the market.

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