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Coffee farmers decry meager earnings, asks government to intervene

A  section of coffee farmers in Murang’a want the government to intervene and ensure they get better prices from their cash crop.

Farmers allied to Thangaini Cooperative Society in Kigumo Sub-county have registered their dissatisfaction of prices ranging from Sh. 12 to 15, terming the earnings as a mockery.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, the farmers led by their Chairman, Mwangi Mwaniki noted prices given cannot cater for production expenses leave alone supporting their livelihoods.

In recent past, the farmers stated that they have employed various measures to increase production of coffee which has gone down for many years.

Some farmers are said to have abandoned coffee due to poor management of the sector leading to meager returns.

Mwaniki observed management of coffee factories are not to blame for low prices since coffee processing goes to various stages before final price is attained.

Coffee factories, he said still use old machinery which increases processing expenses leaving farmers with little payments.

Thangaini Cooperative Society has eight coffee factories and all have recorded high production of coffee but farmers are paid low prices.

“High maintenance cost of old coffee milling machines has been associated with the low prices of coffee. Promises made by the Techno-Savvy Coffee Task Force to replace them with new machines have not been fulfilled,” said the Chairman.

Coffee prices, he noted, have  been decreasing over time as compared to other cash crops which are fetching good returns.

Mwaniki  asked the government to implement recommendations of the Taskforce which was formed three years ago so as to revive the sector.

“The government should not wait until coffee prices extremely go down so as to intervene. Right measures should always be employed to ensure the sector is doing well all the time,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mwaniki  said the Cherry Fund which was established last year should be well structured so as to ensure every farmer benefits from the money.

The  Fund, he added was allocated Sh. 3 billion but the distribution of the money has a challenge since there are no good structures to channel the finances to small scale coffee farmers.

“Impact of the set Funds should be felt at the grassroots and we request the Ministry concerned to come out with better plans on how the Cherry Fund will reach farmers at the grassroots,” added Mwaniki.

He argued that part of the money has been released through Kenya Planters Cooperative Union and up to now it’s not clear how about Sh. 250 million from the Fund has been utilized.

Coffee, he further said, if better strategies are not employed, the crop may come to extinct since many farmers are abandoning the crop to engage in other economic activities.

By  Bernard Munyao/Joyserah Maina

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