Coffee farmers should be at liberty to sell their crop at a market of their choice in order to reap maximum profit without incurring hidden costs attached to the sale transactions.
The Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperative Mr. Peter Munya was addressing coffee farmers during a public participation forum to discuss proposed reforms in the coffee sector at Ikinu in Githunguri sub-county.
He said the farmers had suffered for years and that it was time for the Government to put in place measures that would cushion farmers from the few people who fleeced them in the pretext of selling for them the crop on the international market.
He also noted that the national government was pursuing better foreign markets where farmers would be at liberty to choose where to sell their crop as opposed to a single outlet that had no options.
From June 29th 2020, New KPCU begun receiving coffee in the newly operationalized Meru mills. By end of September 2020, Munya noted that the early season crop received at the mills was 553,150 kilos of parchment. From this parchment, 362,352 kgs milled coffee resulted, which translated to 6,139 bags and 12 pockets, he said.
The CS noted that most coffee farmers were living in squalor, thus were unable to meet their financial obligations because some of the management of the Saccos that purported to be selling the crop for them instead mismanaged it for their own reasons resulting to some of the coffee farmers opting to uproot it.
It was for this reason that the President initiated the coffee revitalization programme that was being implemented in 8 counties which predominantly grow more coffee compared to other cash crops.
Munya noted that the 5 billion World Bank funds for coffee revitalization programme would be implemented in eight counties including Murang’a, Machakos, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Kirinyaga, Embu and Kiambu to increase coffee production.
The CS said it was painful to see coffee farmers suffering after delivering their crop to the millers, and that for this reason, “Farmers will get 40 per cent of the value of the coffee they deliver” to cushion them from borrowing other expensive loans.
Munya advised the coffee farmers to take advantage of the available services like the e-vouchers which he said gave smallholders discounts of up to 60 per cent on fertilizer and agro-chemicals from the recommended shops.
He told the farmers to purchase chemicals and subsidized fertilizer at the national trading corporation which had genuine products that could not affect their crop. “We have seen cases where farmers are sold red-oxide instead of the chemicals that should be used on their crop thus making them incur losses,” said the CS.
He said the government has established Sh3 billion Coffee Cherry Advance Revolving Funds to provide an affordable, sustainable and accessible cherry advance to smallholder farmers.
“Take advantage of this fund and stop borrowing expensive loans from the cartels who have been misleading you for years,” Munya said.
He added that the Government had rolled out measures to refurbish coffee factories in respective counties which also included a raft of measures to tackle challenges in the coffee sector.
On the sale of coffee, the CS said coffee from Meru was mainly sold at the Auction. He noted that the New KPCU had attended the auction three times, on 13th October 2020, 24th November and 8th December where a total of 43,9658kg had been sold at 0.70US Dollars which translated to Sh75.25 per kilogram of cherry.
He added that early crop season 2019/2020 2020/2021 coffee deliveries to New KPCU Dandora branch started on 4th June 2020 and the parchment received from Muranga, Kiambu, Nyeri and other coffee growing counties was 191,050 kilograms. From this, he stated that a total of 114,041 kilos of clean coffee was realized which translates to 1,900 bags and 41 pockets
During the public participation, the representatives of the coffee farmers who attended the forum from Komothai and Ikinu locations of Githunguri sub-county pledged to support the coffee bill so that they can reap maximum profit from the crop.
The CS who was accompanied by area Member of Parliament Mr. Gabriel Kago and Kiambu County Commissioner Wilson Wanyanga also addressed the BBI issue explaining to the farmers the gains it would bring to the people of Kiambu.
He said when passed, Kiambu would get an additional 6 Parliamentary seats and this would allow more money to trickle down to the people through the National government CDF.
He however advised the farmers to get the copies of the document and read it for themselves to make an informed decision.