BETTER PRICES

Avocado farmers sign deal to sell each fruit at Sh20

They have been selling each fruit at Sh11 to the firm, now, they will fetch almost double the price

In Summary

• The over 500 farmers formed a co-operative after which they partnered with the exporter.

• The farmers have sold fruits worth Sh3 million since partnering with the company late last year.

A farmer weighs his avocados after harvesting in Mathioya.
A farmer weighs his avocados after harvesting in Mathioya.
Image: /ALICE WAITHERA

An exporter has signed a deal with a group of avocado farmers in Mathioya subcounty, Murang'a, to buy their fruit at Sh20 each.

The deal between Mathioya Avocado Farmers Co-operative Society and Keitt Exporters Ltd was facilitated by MCA Morris Thuku.

The farmers' group, which has about 500 members, has been selling each fruit at Sh11 to the same exporter. The MCA has helped the group renegotiate for better prices.

The new prices, Thuku said, will take effect later this month and will empower the farmers who are hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thuku told the Star on Saturday that the co-operative was formed in 2015, but was only registered late last year, after which it entered into an agreement with the exporter.

Since then, farmers have exported avocados worth Sh3 million. Thuku said before then, farmers sold their fruits at a meager Sh7 per piece to brokers.

“We sat down and started thinking about expanding the market for our farmers and that is how we registered the co-operative and approached the exporter,” he said.

Thuku spoke after touring the exporter’s plant and renegotiating for better prices for the farmers from his ward.

He appealed to farmers not to harvest their fruits for the next three weeks to allow them to fully mature and attain the required quality.

“We expect avocado prices to surge globally because production from Peru, which has been dominating the market is going down,” he said.

Immature harvesting has been blamed for poor prices for Kenyan avocados internationally and farmers are urged to wait until they are fully grown.

Earlier in the year, the county government drafted the Murang’a County Avocado Production, Processing and Marketing Bill to cushion farmers from exploitation by brokers and prohibit immature harvesting.

The bill sought to compel buyers to buy avocados according to their size and give the county government power to control harvesting periods.

It also wanted avocado farmers registered in subcounty co-operatives that would then collectively sell fruit to the highest bidder through contract farming.

It was, however, withdrawn after eliciting sharp reactions from stakeholders who said they were not consulted.

The MCA, however, said the bill had farmers’ best interests as it provided much-needed structures that will shield farmers from exploitation and facilitate better prices.

“I know the benefits of selling farm produce in a group to one buyer because then farmers are able to negotiate for better prices,” Thuku said.

He promised to help in the passing and implementation of the bill, saying it will stabilise the multi-billion sector and ensure farmers reap more from the crop.

Murang’a county is one of the highest producers of avocados in the country and is responsible for more than 60 per cent of the total exports.

Last year, Murang’a farmers earned Sh7 billion from avocados.

Thuku urged farmers to continue investing in avocado farming and ensuring they use best farming practices, saying it has the potential to change their lives financially.

“We have agreed to organise farmers’ days to train them on the best practices that will increase the quality and quantity of their fruits,” the MCA said.

Edited by A.N

Members of Mathioya Avocado Farmers Co-operative Society transport fruits from their farms
Members of Mathioya Avocado Farmers Co-operative Society transport fruits from their farms
Image: /ALICE WAITHEA
A farmer harvests avocado fruits in Kiru, Mathioya, Murang'a county.
A farmer harvests avocado fruits in Kiru, Mathioya, Murang'a county.
Image: /ALICE WAITHERA