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High court declares coffee reforms unlawful

Coffee farmers will continue suffering in the hands of cartels after the new coffee general regulations aimed at effecting reforms in the sector were declared unlawful.

The order by the High Court in Nairobi has also compelled the agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett to ensure that lawful regulations are promulgated within 30 days of the first sitting of the next Parliament.

If there will be a default of compliance, an order will be issued to the Agriculture CS and the PS Richard Lesiyampe barring them and their agents from implementing the coffee regulations.

TASKFORCE

During the court hearing, petitioners urged that during the formulation of the regulations by the CS, farmers and other stakeholders were not given an opportunity to air their views.

They said the taskforce did not conduct qualitative and meaningful public participation neither did it take the report to Parliament for approval.

The Agriculture ministry said that the regulations were presented to the clerk of the National Assembly on time for approval.

But the court established that the approval document was a forgery created after the respondents learned of the suit.

LOBBY

The Council of Governors and a farmers’ lobby group moved to court seeking an injunction to stop the implementation of regulations.

The coffee regulations were the recommendations that a committee formed by the President Uhuru Kenyatta in March last year to spearhead solutions to the ailing sector.

New Farmers Association, the farmers’ lobby group, claimed that the report had omitted the pressing issues raised by farmers during the public hearing by the taskforce committee.

The association noted that the taskforce favoured powerful personalities in the coffee industry but not ordinary farmers.

CRITICAL ISSUES

“We want the taskforce to go back to the drawing table to amend the report and include all critical issues raised by farmers as presented by them during the public hearing,” said Mr Harrison Munyi, NFA chairman.

The Council of governors on their part, said the committee went ahead to gazette the regulations without conducting meaningful and qualitative public participation as required by the Statutory Instrument Act.

Under the regulations, farmers were expected to market and sell their produce under a Central Depository Unit (CDU).

NEW LAWS

The regulations have mandated the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (Affa) as the agency that will regulate the industry.

The measures also require every grower to register with the agency and county governments.

They also ban pulping stations and cooperative societies from having liens over coffee growers.

The regulations unlike before required that farmers receive direct payment for the sale of their coffee.

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