Kenya has formed an avocado taskforce committee comprising exporters, farmers, shippers, and aggregators aimed at addressing pertinent issues within the sector, with a deadline of 30 days to propose actionable solutions.

Chaired by the Chief of Staff in the office of Deputy President, Wanjiku Wakogi, the task force has been entrusted to scrutinise concerns raised during a recent stakeholders meeting held earlier this month and to devise effective remedies for implementation.

In a communication obtained by Business Day Africa, Ms Wakogi articulated the mission of the taskforce, highlighting its mandate to assess challenges hindering the full exploitation of opportunities within the sub-sector.

Representatives from key avocado-growing regions including Central Kenya, North Rift, and Western region form part of the task force, indicating a broad spectrum of industry involvement.

The task force’s inception follows a convened meeting last week, orchestrated by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, in response to farmer outcry over the Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA) imposition of taxes on avocado farmers.

During the meeting, Mr Gachagua underscored the adverse impact of the current finance Act on farmers, advocating for dialogue between avocado stakeholders and the National Treasury to delineate parameters for extending a tax moratorium to farmers.

Members of the task force include Munyi Wanjohi, Chairman of Avocado Aggregators of Kenya, Ojepat Okisegere, CEO of Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, and Beth Ihomba representing MAERSK Shipping.

Convening for its inaugural meeting on Wednesday at the Harambee House Annex, the taskforce embarked on its mandate against a ticking clock, demonstrating a sense of urgency in addressing the raised concerns.

Furthermore, Mr Gachagua reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing farmers’ grievances in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, with the overarching goal of maximising returns from avocado farming.

The government has signaled its intention to extend tax relief to avocado farmers through proposed amendments to Section 23 of the Finance Act of 2023, which necessitates farmers to file through the Electronic Tax Invoice Management Systems (e-TIMS).

gandae@businessdayafrica.org