Kenya: Small-Scale Farmers From Eastern Kenya Support Coffee Task Force Report

Small-scale farmers from the former Eastern province have supported the recommendations of the Task force on Coffee Sub-Sector Reforms saying their implementation will help boost earnings and improve crop production.

The farmers appealed to Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett to hold a nationwide grassroots sensitisation campaign to explain the benefits they stand to get from the findings, so as to convince those opposed to it.

Led by Mr Adrian Kirai who was a member of the taskforce, the coffee officials from major cooperative societies in the coffee-rich region said those opposed to the new rules could be acting out of ignorance.

Mr Kirai, who is also the secretary of the Meru Coffee Millers, said they had collected views from farmers across the country and their report was inclusive.

Meru Coffee Millers chairman Zablon Mbaabu said the recommendations would eliminate cartels who had for long dominated the coffee industry and boost earnings.

He said farmers would now be free to sell their coffee to the highest bidder, since the requirement that they must deposit S billion to be allowed to directly sell their beans had been lifted.

SELL COFFEE DIRECTLY

Mr Mbaabu said farmers had never fully benefitted from the opening of the second window that was aimed at helping them sell coffee directly.

“The Coffee Act of 2002 that opened the second window didn’t help most of the farmers.

“Cartels took over and started selling coffee they had not produced. The report removes cartels from this business,” he said.

Mr Mbaabu called on Bett to initiate dialogue so that they can immediately start reaping the benefits of the report.

The official said the taskforce findings propose, among other things, the formation of a price stabilisation committee, which will guard farmers against poor prices.

Mr Samuel Njue, an official from Embu County, said the recommendations will ensure that farmers’ dues are not delayed.

He said farmers will be paid 40 per cent of the prevailing price immediately cherry is delivered to mills and a minimum advance payment of S5 for every kilogramme of cherry delivered.

Mr Patrick Nzuna, the chairman of Muisuni Coffee Cooperative Society in Kangundo, said farmers in Ukambani supported the report.

He said the farmers were happy that the recommendations proposed that the government waives the millions of shillings that farmers owe Co-op Bank in Stabex loans.

He said farmers will also get money to access affordable farm inputs.

Source: The Nation