Kenya: Vigilantes hired to combat gangs that steal avocados

Kenya is seeing a rise in organized criminal gangs targeting avocado growers. With the demand for the fruit growing in the US and Europe, Kenya overtook South Africa last year to become the continent's top avocado exporter.

Vigilante groups are now being formed to protect the crop, being hired to guard farms and avocado orchards. It is dangerous work: people can get hurt and even killed.

One growers says he has had to take action as he has fallen victim to the thieves. "You can fence the entire farm but that won't stop them," he says, showing me where his barbed wire fence has been cut. "You spend an entire season taking care of your crops, then in a single night all your fruits are stolen in a matter of hours."

Avocados tend to be harvested in Kenya between February and October - but the thieves have been targeting the immature fruit. In an effort to clamp down on the black market, the authorities have imposed a ban on exporting avocados from November until the end of January.


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