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Coffee bedrock farmers object to task force recommendations

Coffee bedrock farmers object to task force recommendations. (Photo: Courtesy)

Coffee farmers have opposed a raft of recommendations by a task force established to reform the sector.

Speaking through their leaders, the farmers from Meru and Nyeri claim some of the proposals are likely to open the sector to cartels.

The farmers drawn from 34 primary societies in Meru have expressed fear for the sector. Githae Hunyu, chairman of Mutheka Coffee Farmers Society in Tetu observed that the recommendations would kill the coffee co-operatives.

The Meru farmers and Hunyu have jointly opposed the recommendation to establish a Coffee Depository Fund (CDU) under the Coffee Directorate of the Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Authority (AFFA).

The report recommends that Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett appoints a seven-member team to be in-charge of receiving and paying out farmers for coffee deliveries traded at the central auction. This, they said would be open to political manipulation and farmers would be left holding the wrong end of the stick.

They also said the proposal to have CDU pay 15 percent value of farmers’ deliveries would disadvantage their aged colleagues who had little understanding of mobile phone technology. The proposal, according to Hunyu, would also cut off co-operative societies from managing farmers finances rendering them obsolete. The Meru farmers said they wanted the proposal deleted from the report.

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Minimum acreage

“In any case, the 15 percent in cherry advance proposed for payment is far below the 30 percent that some co-operative societies offer farmers,” said the Meru farmers.

They further stated that limiting the percentage of deduction that societies could use for operations and maintenance costs at 15 percent would hurt smaller societies that had large overheads. The farmers also want the new coffee regulations to retain the requirement for minimum acreage for licensing of growers deleted.

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