CCTV cameras will be installed in coffee stores and the beans insured as the government moves to tame rampant theft which has seen farmers’ losses hit Sh5.2 million in 10 months.
Under the new security guidelines developed by the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) in partnership with county governments, growers and their saccos will also vet their managers and employees.
The guidelines also call for deterrent penalties for coffee thieves even as saccos are required to keep limited quantities of the commodity at collection points.
Agriculture principal secretary Richard Lesiyampe said that laxity fuels most coffee thefts as co-operatives fail to protect farmers’ produce.
“This situation has been encouraged by the fact that coffee remains the property of the farmer even after delivery at the stores in spite of farmers not having physical custody to it,” said Dr Lesiyampe.
He noted that most co-operative societies lack insurance cover for the crop, store excessive amounts of coffee at factories and have uncontrolled access to the facilities.
“These examples demonstrate culpability of those entrusted with farmers’ coffee and the need for a proactive approach to coffee security on the part of the farmer, security organs and other stakeholders,” he said.
Dr Lesiyampe warned coffee sacco managers that they will bear the responsibility for thefts as farmers will not suffer on account of their recklessness.
Statistics by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that coffee production declined by 16 per cent to 41,000 tonnes harvested in 2015, from 49,500 tonnes in 2014.
Kenya exports nearly 95 per cent of its coffee, making it vulnerable to low international prices. The commodity normally trades at the New York Exchange which sets global prices.
Data from the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) indicates that the crop earned the country Sh10.1 billion between last October and April this year compared to Sh10.6 billion fetched in the previous comparable period, with the decline partly blamed on low quality berries.
The volume of coffee sold through the auction increased to 24.3 tonnes compared with 23.8 tonnes last year. The value of the crop at the NCE declined by nine per cent to Sh8.5 billion in the half-year to March due to low volumes and prices.