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MPs demand installation of avocado freezing machines

Members of Parliament from Central Kenya are calling on the government to provide a solution to frustrated avocado farmers eyeing export markets.

The leaders want Cabinet secretary in charge of Agriculture Mwangi Kiunjuri to work with his Industry, Trade and Cooperatives counterpart Peter Munya to install refrigeration containers in all constituencies so that the country can access markets in Dubai, the rest of Middle East and China.

Stringent entry rules imposed by China include freezing the fruits. The conditions require  small-scale farmers who represent 70 per cent of avocado growers to install machines and coolers for peeling and freezing of the fruit before exporting the crop. Unfortunately, the poor farmers cannot afford to buy coolers and the hurdle is likely to leave them out in the cold.

Led by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Jonah Mburu (Lari), Wanjiku Kibe (Gatundu North) and Gabriel Kago (Githunguri), the MPs said not every farmer can manage to export the produce on their own.

They spoke in Lari, Githunguri, Gatundu South and Gatundu North constituencies at functions  where the Ministry of Agriculture, donated more than 30,000 avocado seedlings. Kuria also rooted for installation of National Cereals and Produce Board depots in all constituencies so as to avail affordable fertilisers to farmers.

“You may think farming has been designated only for some regions. We, who don’t grow maize, should also be remembered. We want to hear maize, potatoes, rice and avocado farmers accorded equity in distribution of resources,” he said.

CS Kiunjuri urged farmers to engage in value addition and to commercialise agriculture. He promised to put in place measures to cushion farmers from being locked out of the lucrative export markets.

Kenyans were allowed to export the popular Hass avocado variety after a trade deal signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing in April. This makes Kenya the first African nation to export avocados to the 1.4 billion people market.

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