KENYA – Willis Audi, the acting Director of the Horticulture Crops Directorate (HCD), has been appointed as the new Director General of the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).

He takes the mantle from Beatrice Nyamwamu who recently exited office a day before she was summoned to answer on irregularities within the Authority.

Willis Magak Audi holds a Master of Science in Horticulture degree from Egerton University.

Since 1993, he has worked for the Ministry of Agriculture in a variety of capacities in the Rift Valley and Central Kenya regions, as well as in Kilimo House’s Extension Services and Food Security Unit.

In 2014, he was transferred to the former Kenya Coconut Development Authority (predecessor to the Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate). Additionally, from April 2014 to April 2018, he served as a Senior Horticultural Officer at the Horticultural Crops Directorate.

Planning and creating agricultural data for policymaking, a seminar for agricultural officials from African nations, the development of oil crops, and training of trainers on quality control for fruit and vegetable certification are just a few of the professional trainings that he has taken.

Audi has thus far in his career journey managed to create “Training Guidelines and Manual on Agricultural Data Collection and Management” and established a mango mother-block at KALRO Perkerra.

He has also steered the planning and promotion of Macadamia production in Baringo.

In March, President William Ruto appointed Cornelly Serem as the AFA Chairperson to serve for a five-year term.

Export of immature avocados

The management changes come amid a backlash against the export of immature avocados.

This came about as a result of a Kenyan expatriate complaining on social media about the substandard avocados being offered on the foreign market. The culprits had their licenses revoked.

Announcing the suspension of the permits, Kello Harsama, Principal Secretary for Agriculture, stated that this was a violation of the rules prohibiting the export of immature avocados.

According to him, the licenses of the two companies Real Fresh Exporters Limited and Kandia Fresh Produce were suspended in order to protect Kenya’s current access to the vast international market.

“We are aware of companies exporting sub-standard fruits and we are taking action. Recently, I cancelled two import licenses for two companies exporting immature avocados. I visited pack houses involved in the illegal business in Embakasi,” the PS said at the time.

The board announced the alterations while also noting that AFA management had not adhered to rules that control and forbid the distribution of low-quality avocados.

According to a senior officer, the board also expressed concern over the failure to implement other legal requirements, says The Star.

AFA is currently under scrutiny by Members of Parliament (MP) over a multi-billion deal.

The lack of a title deed worth an estimated Ksh1.28 billion (U.S$ 9,332,847) and a dispute with a private developer over Ksh695 million (U.S$ 5,067,444) in worth of land were discrepancies in the deals that were the subject of audit findings.

Also under dispute, is a piece of land located in Embakasi, Nairobi worth Ksh1.6 billion (U.S$ 11,666,059)

In addition, AFA lost Ksh52 million (U.S$ 379,146) in a failed bank, according to the Auditor General.

The Authority was also called to account for Ksh500 million (U.S$ 3,645,643) as a result of anomalous payments to sugar farmers.

AFA is a State Corporation in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Corporatives established to Regulate, Develop and Promote Scheduled Crops value chains for increased economic growth in Kenya.

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