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Coffee factories face significant theft losses

Murang’a South Sub County Security Team and various stakeholders held a consultative meeting to develop strategies to stem the challenge of insecurity crippling the coffee sector in the county.

Coffee factories shareholders and stakeholders are drawn from Karurumo coffee factory, Gikiuga coffee factory, Ikundu coffee factory, Kamahuha coffee factory, Kamiti coffee factory, and Changai coffee factory.

Addressing the stakeholders, Murang’a South Deputy County Commissioner, Mr. Gitonga Murungi, decried the current spate of insecurity that has plagued the coffee sector in the region.

He noted that the security team is committed to ensuring sustained patrols in conjunction with the management of the factory companies to curb the incidences of theft in the coffee societies.

“It has emerged that some of the thefts being witnessed in the companies are perpetrated by insiders, and this casts a lot of doubt on the integrity of certain key individuals in the sector; it is unfortunate,” said the DCC.

“The insider involvement has disrupted the smooth functioning of the value chain, thus raising serious concerns about the credibility and trustworthiness of some members, and therefore all the security personnel in the companies must be vetted within 14 days,” he added.

Further, it also emerged that the current blanket coffee trade closure is immensely exacerbating the issue faced by the coffee companies in the region as they can only stockpile without selling.

Other gaps that were identified in the coffee value chain involving private out growers, licenced coffee millers, coffee roasters, and the availability of alternative markets offering quick money have led to decreased commitment to the formal coffee value chain.

This diversion has further weakened the sector and contributed to financial instability for legitimate coffee industry stakeholders.

On their part, the companies have put in place various arrangements to improve protection against potential unauthorised access and theft.

Whereas Ikundu and Karurumo coffee factories have been hit by the spate of insecurity and eventually recovered from the huge loss incurred, factories like Kamahuha, whose grade one coffee was stolen most recently, saw the company completely crippled and unable to recover from the loss incurred.

“Karururumo coffee factory, which experienced a coffee theft incident in 2014, has formally requested an increase in police patrols and has also increased their security detail after suffering another blow last week,” noted Murungi.

The factories that lack proper fencing were advised to ensure unauthorised access and theft are reduced by fencing the premises to reduce their vulnerability and exposure to theft.

They were also asked to use technology for security, such as solar-powered lighting, surveillance, and off-site monitoring and recording.

By Florence Kinyua

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