Farmers count losses as criminals raid farms, steal avocado

Workers at Mukutan conservancy in Laikipia County sort out avocado fruits ready for market. [James Munyeki, Standard]

Farmers in Murang'a are counting losses following avocado theft targeting several farms.

Murang’a County Avocado Cooperative Union chairperson John Mwaniki said farmers from Maragua, Kandara, and Gatanga are the most affected.

The farmers lamented that rogue merchants were buying the stolen avocado from criminals at a throw-away price and later selling at a profit to the exporters and processors.

They said widespread theft will affect investment in the crop.

Mwaniki noted that more than 14 suspects have been arrested by police in Kandara and prosecuted in connection with the theft of the avocado but this has not deterred the criminals.

“We demand action to streamline the avocado value chain as we have agents buying the stolen produce and later taking it to the processors and exporters,” he said.

Michael Kariuki is counting losses after the criminals stole immature avocados on his Mitumbiri farm.

“This is a big loss to the farmers, and we seek police protection to safeguard our investments,” said Kariuki.

Former Murang’a Assembly Speaker Nduati Kariuki said small-scale farmers had been forced to spend nights on their farms to guard the produce.

“We need a guide to ensure the processors will not be allowed to receive the fruits during the night as a way of discouraging theft of avocados,” said Nduati. 

Former Gatanga MP Dr Humprey Kimani Njuguna said the theft of avocado was a threat to livelihoods.

“All players need to work together to address the irregularities being experienced,” said Njuguna. 

Attempts to get a comment from the police were futile.