New cash payment model for coffee farmers

Coffee farmers will get monthly payments in a new model being implemented in Meru County to fasten coffee payments currently taking six to eight months.

A senior Cooperative Officer at the State Department of Cooperatives, Samuel Kuria, said this is a pilot project being implemented in Meru County borrowed from the Ethiopian Cash Payment Model.

Ordinarily, coffee farmers are normally paid after the sale of their produce in the market which takes six to eight months, and this had demoralized farmers forcing many uproot the crop.

Speaking on Wednesday during a coffee power breakfast talk on production and youth involvement at a Nairobi hotel, Kuria explained that currently, cooperative societies are supposed to pay farmers 80 percent of the total proceeds, and retain 20 percent for operations which they (farmers) have to wait for six to eight months.

In the new model, farmers will be paid an average of Sh.23 per month for a period of four months. The payments to the farmers will be sent directly to their accounts, said Kuria.

He added that if successful in Meru County, the cash payment model will then be rolled out in other coffee growing counties.

The Interim Head of Coffee Directorate, Kiplimo Meli said they were in consultation with the County governments and other key industry players to motivate farmers who have otherwise been waiting for many months before getting payments.

We will start payment in May for the April crop and farmers will get an advance payment as they wait for the full payment once all the coffee has been sold, said Meli but was quick to say that for the farmers to benefit from this, they must be members of the coffee union.

Meli added that this model of payment is aimed at motivating coffee farmers in the country and also enticing young people to venture into the coffee sector.

According to the coffee directorate, coffee production is currently between 40,000 metric tonnes and 50,000 MT currently.

This is a huge decline from 129,000 metric tonnes in 1987/88 coffee year owing to a number of factors including climate change, farmers abandoning the crop to other high cash valued crops such as horticulture, poor prices and delay of payments.

The sharp decline is also more severe in smallholder farmers with yield per tree declining to 2kilogramme against a potential of more than 30 kilogrammes.

Source: Kenya News Agency