The government has launched the National Coffee Farm Inputs Stimulus Package E-subsidy Programme to ease the pressure of accessing farm inputs by coffee farmers.
The programme targets 82,650 farmers in the 32 coffee growing counties and is being implemented by the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (New KPCU).
This will see coffee farmers accessing a wide range of inputs of their choice which will be available at a lower cost.
The programme brings in smart cards that will facilitate better, faster and reliable pay for farmers. The cards will also be used to buy fertilizers or pesticides from accredited suppliers.
Addressing a group of farmers at Kajiunduthi grounds in Tharaka Nithi County during the launch, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said that both the smallholder coffee farmers in cooperatives and small estate coffee farmers are eligible to join the programme.
He noted that the programme allows coffee farmers to take loans and repay with a low interest of three per cent which can be accessed by the majority of the farmers.
The CS urged the farmers to register during the event into the scheme so that their cards can be processed for use as soon as possible. “You should register today to be given the cards by next week so you can start using them for your benefit,” the CS told the farmers.
The Smart card which has been nonexistent in the traditional way of farming will ensure better pay for farmers and a quick and timely payment process to avoid payment delays.
Munya expressed that the cost of major inputs necessary in coffee production will be available to the farmers at a reduced cost, adding that this is aimed at boosting agriculture, increasing wages and lowering production rates.
The subsidies will also help keep farm inputs prices low especially fertilizers and chemicals as well as controlling inflation.
The agriculture CS revealed that the programme will benefit Tharaka Nithi farmers by increasing coffee prices to not less than 100 per kilogramme.
“Tharaka Nithi farmers have been lagging behind with their plant productivity leading to poor payments and counting of losses instead of benefits. This programme will help to clear all those problems and increase the production per tree from 1.5 Kilogrammes,” he said.
The stimulus programme will ensure farmers seeking to purchase fertilizers will get 40 per cent aid from the government with them paying only 60 per cent.
”The government has come to your help. Let’s take for example fertilizer that is sold for Sh.1000, the farmer will pay only Sh.600. The remaining Sh 400 will be catered for by the government,” said Munya.
The CS disclosed that the government is fighting cartels in the coffee sector who set up schemes to launder money from farmers.
”You have seen the change registered in the tea industry after we pulled out all the cartels, we are working on doing the same for the coffee industry,” he explained.
By eradicating the cartels, a local farmer will be able to export their coffee abroad, said Munya as there is a wide market out there for Kenyan coffee.
By Sharon Gitau and Steve Ireri