The Murang'a County Assembly has recommended the withdrawal of the contentious County Avocado Production and Processing Bill. Several members of the Agriculture committee want it returned to the Executive for redrafting.
Committee chairperson Charles Kahoro observed that two constituencies failed to conduct public participation on the bill. The bill has proposed tough regulations to help spur the avocado sub-sector, which include farmers getting a licence to cut avocado trees.
The farmers must indicate on the licence application form reasons for cutting a tree, and the age of the tree. Also, avocado exporters, transporters, cold rooms operators among other players in the sub-sector must be registered and licenced.
The bill has created a rift between governor Mwangi wa Iria and a section of MCAs. Farmers in Kandara and Gatanga constituencies have also voiced their opposition to it.
During a public participation exercise on Monday in Kandara, three MCAs Simon Wamwea, Moses Murigi and Kibe wa Sally were confronted by farmers who were opposed to the new avocado regulations.
The bill has also proposed harvesting seasons to be monitored, with harvesting dates being observed for various ecological zones. Murang’a will be divided into three ecological zones: upper, middle and lower to facilitate harvesting of mature avocado.
Murang’a is a leading producer of avocado. Farmers earned Sh5 billion last year from the crop according to the county government. In the past two years, the governor said his administration has distributed free avocado seedlings estimated at 1.6 million.