Traders sort avocado fruits at a collection centre in Gatitu, Nyeri County. [Kibata Kihu Kihu, Standard]

The Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) is working on measures to flush out rogue players within the avocado value chain, blamed for sabotaging the multi-billion shillings industry.

The agency has ordered the registration of packhouse operators as it moves to revoke the licences of those found engaging in malpractices.

In a high-profile meeting in Nairobi earlier this week, which brought together exporters and packhouse operators, AFA Chairman Cornelly Serem said the government is keen on streamlining the avocado value chain through registration of the critical players and the cancellation of some licences of those implicated in malpractices. 

The avocado harvesting season opens today, with the dealers being warned against compromising the standards of fruits destined for the export market.

Flanked by Horticulture Crop Directorate (HCD) Acting Director Christine Chesaro, Mr Serem said the industry earned growers Sh19.5 billion last year, up from Sh10.6 billion in 2019, thus the need to uphold quality standards.

“We have to protect the image of the country through registration of the pack house dealers for easy traceability of the product if something goes wrong. The authority has the details of the exporters and the majority are supportive of the industry,” he said.  

The regulator in December intercepted immature avocados at the Kenya-Tanzania border, which led to the arrest of traders and the impounding of their vehicles.

“Also we unmasked some traders mixing mangoes with avocados in Dubai in December,”  said Mr Serem.

Chairperson of the Avocado Exporters Association of Kenya Samson Mureithi urged the regulator to also help deal with some buyers who fail to pay their suppliers. “There are those who, after defrauding the Kenya traders, keep on changing the names of their companies to continue trading,” said Mr Mureithi.

AFA Director - Horticultural Crops Directorate - Christine Chesaro Chesaro said the authority has engaged additional inspectors to make impromptu inspections in pack houses to maintain quality for the export market.

“The Kenya fruit is precious, and we shall not allow anybody to sabotage the market BY by manipulating the dry matter, which must be at 24,” said Ms Chesaro.