By Allan Wanjiku
Murang’a county assembly has formed a joint committee to investigate the reasons why avocado exported by Kakuzi Company Ltd have been rejected by some outlets in the United Kingdom.
The assembly’s speaker Nduati Kariuki want the committee to work expeditiously saying the company supports many livelihoods in Murang’a county through buying and selling of avocado from small scale farmers.
In a press release on friday, Kariuki observed that the reasons behind rejecting of avocado supplied by Kakuzi need to be known and if possible, a solution be attained so as to avert farmers from incurring losses.
Three weeks ago, a major grocery outlet in UK, Tesco suspended buying of avocado from Kakuzi citing allegations that the company has been violating human rights of its workers and members of the neighbouring communities.
The speaker observed that the loss of the market by Kakuzi will affect hundreds of families who have invested in avocado farming and were relying on the lucrative market being offered by the company.
“The Committee has been tasked to investigate among other issues, any criminal actions and violations of human rights, if any, by the employees or the management of Kakuzi limited irrespective of the positions they hold within the company.
“Such gross criminal acts should not be allowed to impact so heavily on the livelihoods of the people in Murang’a County and elsewhere.” Read part of the speaker’s statement.
He noted that the findings of the joint ccommittee will be duly communicated to assist in resolving the matter between the company and its importers.
“This will be in addition to any other findings from any other investigating authority.” Added the speaker
As a County, Kariuki noted that there is a need to do whatever is necessary to protect the County’s economy by assuring all our international importers of our seriousness in upholding employment ethics and human rights.
“We believe a report from the County legislature will give comfort to the importers and will uplift the suspension thus giving hope to our farmers.” Kariku further said.
The Membership of the Committee will comprise Members of the Committee on Governance, Labour, Justice and Legal Affairs, the Committee on Agriculture and the Trade Committee.
Murang’a county is among top producers of avocado and thousands of farmers have been reaping high returns from the fruit.
The county government in past years have been issuing avocado seedlings to farmers after the devolved administration entered into partnership with exporter companies like Kakuzi which buy avocado at better prices.
Residents who neighbour Kakuzi have been accusing the company on violation of human rights with some people allege to have been assaulted and grievously injured by guards of the company.