Nyeri leaders laud coffee Sh3 billion fund
Leaders in Nyeri have lauded the Sh3 billion Coffee Cherry Advance Revolving Fund as a step in the right direction in reviving the ailing industry.
Speaking this week at the Coffee Revolving Fund public participation forum in Nyeri Town, the leaders led by Governor Mutahi Kahiga and three area Members of Parliament (MPs) said the fund was timely as it would help cushion farmers against the volatility of prices as they do the pre-harvest practices.
Governor Kahiga reported that current production of coffee in the county was at all-time low of two kilos per bush per annum against a potential of 30 kilos.
He thus said the fund that was part of the proposed reforms in the coffee value chain would go a long way in giving farmers fresh impetus to go back to their farms with an assurance that their labor was not in vain.
Kahiga said his government had also come up with several interventions geared towards increasing production including soil testing and provision of lime to farmers to reduce soil acidity as well as increasing extension services to equip farmers with new farming techniques.
Heavily indebted farmers
He, however, said there was a need to assist many of coffee cooperatives in the area that were reeling from the burden of debts owed to commercial banks amounting to approximately Sh. 14 billion.
Kahiga's sentiment was echoed by Mathira MP, Rigathi Gachagua, who said the government needed to step in and bail these societies out of their debts just as it had done for the sugar industry.
He continued to say that without proper marketing of coffee and elimination of brokers in the value chain, farmers may not reap the intended benefits.
“For a coffee farmer to benefit, deliberate policy interventions must be made in the marketing of coffee in a similar manner and aggressiveness as is done in the tourism industry,” said the MP.
His Kieni counterpart, Kanini Kega, said revival of Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) was at the heart of the matter in ensuring order was restored as it would give the government a grip in the industry.
“Liberalisation of coffee industry following the death of KPCU opened the flood gates to brokers who have done nothing but to impoverish farmers,” said Kega.
The MP who is also the Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Industry and Cooperatives chair, urged farmers not to lose hope.
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Nyeri Town MP, Ngunjiri Wambugu, said there was a need also to promote local market by making Kenya the biggest consumer of its own coffee as is the case with Ethiopia.
“Ethiopia consumes 50 percent of its own coffee while here we only consume two percent,” the MP reported.
This, he said, would help cushion farmers should prices fall or in case there was no adequate market for coffee in the international market.