KENYA – The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has officially deregistered the Avocado Society of Kenya (ASOK).

The notice, dated January 15, 2024, cites misconduct and breaches of industry regulations, marking a critical development in the ongoing controversies surrounding ASOK.

The AFA, responsible for regulating the industry through various acts and regulations, emphasized its commitment to enforcing rules outlined in the AFA Act of 2013, Crops Act of 2013, and the Crops (Horticultural Crops) Regulations, 2020.

The Directorate underlined the importance of ensuring the quality of produce marketed both locally and internationally.

This deregistration comes in the wake of the Avocado harvesting season’s closure for the 2023/2024 fiscal year, effective November 3, 2023.

Christine Chesaro, the Acting Director of the AFA’s Horticultural Crops Directorate, expressed concern over ASOK’s actions during the closure period stating, “The conduct of ASOK and its leadership is counter-productive to the growth and development of the entire horticulture industry and hurts Kenya’s trade ties with other countries.”

The notice highlighted several activities allegedly undertaken by ASOK and its CEO, Mr. Ernest Muthomi, that were deemed detrimental to the industry and the nation’s trade in horticulture.

The identified activities include the posting of unverified information on social media platforms, such as Twitter, regarding the export of immature avocados to regional and international markets.

ASOK is also accused of communicating with countries in the Middle East, labeling Kenyan avocados as contraband and urging their removal from supermarkets.

Furthermore, ASOK allegedly failed to use appropriate communication channels on industry matters and made unverified allegations against export companies, the AFA, and its officers.

The notice pointed out that such actions, including verbal attacks on individuals and regulatory institutions on social media, could lead to the loss of the growing export market in the Middle East.

The AFA had previously cautioned ASOK through a letter on December 18, 2023, urging them to desist from their actions. Despite the caution, ASOK continued with similar activities without providing formal evidence of its allegations.

The deregistration decision was reinforced following the interception of trucks transporting immature avocados out of the country through the Namanga Border Point.

ASOK’s CEO, Mr. Muthomi, was reported to be at Namanga since January 12, 2024, allegedly attempting to interfere with ongoing investigations into the illegal exportation of avocados to Tanzania.

With the official deregistration effective January 15, 2024, ASOK ceases to be recognized as an Industry Association and the AFA, through its Board of Directors and entire management, has officially ceased conducting business with ASOK.

This decision aims to maintain order, harmony in the industry, safeguard international markets, and protect the reputation of both the industry and the country.

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