Farmers call for probe and disbandment of society’s management

Farmers of a coffee cooperative society in Embu County have told a Parliamentary Committee to probe and recommend the disbandment of the society’s management over misappropriation of funds.

The farmers of the New Kyeni Coffee Cooperative Society in Runyenjes told the Trade, Industry and Cooperative Committee on Monday in a meeting at Kathanjuri market to petition four society members who they accused of high-handedness and involvement in fraudulent activities.

In a petition drafted by Taratisio Kawe and John Njiru, they accused the management of spending Sh.14million to construct an office complex whereas members had only approved Sh7million.

The management has also failed to account for the expenditure and income on the society’s coffee farm and vehicles, the petition adds.

They told the Kanini Kega led committee that the looting had led to low pay for their coffee, making some uproot their coffee trees and replaced it with more lucrative plants such as bananas or miraa.

They claimed whenever they complained, they were kicked out of the society while those who produce less than 200kgs have no voting powers.

However, the Society Chairman, Charles Kariuki denied the allegations and accused the petitioners of witch-hunt, saying since his election as the chair in 2005 when the society was on the verge of collapse, they have turned it around and boasts of having one of the highest asset base in the County of Sh.35million.

He said they have minutes that members approved the spending of a further Sh.7 million for the construction of the complex, and they can account for the money spent.

He said during the period, new assets have been acquired, the society’s production and farmers’ earnings increased, adding that production rose to 620,000 kilograms of cherry last year up from 400,000 kilos the previous year, while farmers earned at a rate of Sh51 per kilo.

MP Kega said they will consider the member’s concerns and compile a report that will address the issues at the society as well as the problems coffee farmers across the country face.

He warned farmers against uprooting and replacing their coffee with miraa, arguing the latter was not sustainable and had already started experiencing marketing challenges.

Source: Kenya News Agency