Police in Embu impound lorries carrying illegally purchased coffee

By: CHARLES WANYORO

Police in Embu have impounded two lorries carrying 70 bags of coffee worth Sh3 million.

The coffee is suspected to have been illegally purchased from members of Gakundu Coffee Society.

The lorries were trailed from Manyatta market and seized at a road block in Embu Town, as they made their way to Kirinyaga County.

Four people were also arrested in the Thursday night crackdown and are being held at the Embu Police Station.

Gakundu Coffee Society chairman Joseph Njiru said they were concerned that unscrupulous dealers had now invaded the region, and were buying unprocessed coffee in market centres.

He said they were worried that the vice, if not stopped, would result in massive coffee theft and stripping of cherries.

Mr Njiru said the buyers, who included a former cooperatives official, were luring farmers with a promise to pay them Sh100 per kilo of cherries delivered, which could spell death to cooperative societies.

PARALLEL BUYING CENTRES

He said the dealers operating under Ngwataniro Self-Help Group had set up parallel buying centres at Manyatta, Kamviu, Kairuri and Kianjagi, promising farmers an additional pay other than the Sh100.

County executive for Agriculture Patrisio Njiru had raised the red flag over the rampant hawking of coffee, saying the move could compromise quality and quantity of coffee from Embu.

Mr Njiru said farmers were bound by individual society’s rules and should only deliver coffee there since the proceeds also help maintain the facilities.

He said the county had already constructed its own mill to process and market coffee in bulk.

The county executive warned that hawking would affect the Sh125 million initiative since farmers still owed it money.

Mr Peter Njue, a farmer, said they were now forced to guard their coffee plantations at night with bows and arrows, to keep away thieves.

“It is not proper for people to sell cherries outside their coffee factories.

“The county government has not issued such licenses and the move could kill the cooperative societies since many people owe them money,” he said.

Mr Njue alleged that a prominent person had threatened to use actual violence if he is stopped from accessing the coffee.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION