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Coffee and tea factories in Kiambu are on a crackdown due to manipulated weighing machines

Both the National and Kiambu County Governments have launched a crackdown on public and private coffee and tea companies that allegedly manipulate weighing machines to defraud farmers

This comes after an outcry from farmers who raised complaints about the use of faulty machines being used to weigh their produce.

Speaking during a press briefing at his county’s headquarters office, Governor Kimani Wamatangi said the investigations on the matter were being carried out by officials from the weights and measures unit under the Department of Trade in the county government.

The probe has also included officers from the national government whose aim is to seize manual and digital scales that had been calibrated to facilitate the fraud.

“We are committed to restoring integrity in the agricultural sector. Farmers deserve their rightful share of profits from their hard work, not a select few profiting at their expense,” said Wamatangi.

The governor further cited that the crackdown is already a success, as several employees from three factories in the Githunguri and Lari areas were already in custody awaiting trial for the scam estimated to have cost farmers millions of shillings in lost income.

“This is a grave case of fraud… the investigations have availed that farmers have been losing three kilogrammes out of every 20 kilogrammes delivered. This means that if a farmer is delivering 200 kilogrammes of green tea, they have been losing about 30 kilogrammes,” Wamatangi said.

Wamatangi also announced a widening of investigations into the coffee sector where farmers have registered fraudulent concerns as well.

“The county Weights and Measures unit which is mandated to ensure fair trade practices and consumer protection is working tirelessly to safeguard farmers’ interests by cracking down on illicit practices. Our next focus will be the coffee sector, which faces similar challenges,” he added.

James Wainaina, a tea farmer in Githunguri, said they were happy that the government is investigating the issue as the scam has been going on for a long time

“For a long time now, factory clerks have been colluding with some corrupt farmers to tamper with the scales and secretly transferring the stolen number of kilogrammes to them to be paid in return,” reported Wainaina.

County governments are mandated to undertake verification of weighing and measuring equipment in trade and also inspect weighing and measuring instruments and pre-packed goods to ensure compliance with the Weights and Measures Act.

Further, the devolved units are required to conduct investigations of complaints as well as prosecutions of offenses arising from the Weights and Measures Act Cap 513 and Trade Descriptions Act Cap 505.

By Grace Naishoo

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