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Gov’t waives off cost of inputs for coffee farmers

Coffee farmers in the 33 growing counties will soon start enjoying a 40 per cent discount on farm inputs from the government.

Speaking at the Karatina Stadium in Nyeri County during the launch of the E-subsidy programme, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya said that the discount will cover both pesticides and fertilizer.

The launch of the programme follows a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his 2021 Mashujaa Day speech to the National Treasury to allocate Sh1 billion to the coffee sub-sector. The funds were to be used to implement the ongoing targeted interventions which would tackle the prices of fertilizer and pesticides.

The new arrangement will see the over 82,000 coffee farmers only pay 60 per cent for the input while the government will cater for the remainder through the programme.

“The targeted beneficiaries of this programme will include smallholder farmers, small estate coffee farmers, coffee farmers belonging to an association with less than 20 acres of land under coffee and farmers affiliated to a cooperative society,” said Munya.

The E-subsidy will be implemented by the Co-operative Bank of Kenya -who will open accounts for farmers with wallets for fertilizer and pesticides- and the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) who will fund the cash transfer to the bank. According to Munya, farmers will swipe the card at the accredited agro-dealer and enjoy the 40 per cent discount.

“We will identify the input suppliers who will also be accredited by KPCU. We are also working with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to come up with a list of the recommended pesticides and fertilisers for the farmers so that they don’t end up buying knockoffs,” said Munya, adding that the issuance of cards will work in tandem with the release of the list of recommended inputs to be applied by the farmers.

The CS said that talks were underway with KPCU to increase the waiver to 50 per cent to ensure that more farmers benefit from the Sh1 billion allocation.

Munya also said that the new stimulus programme is geared towards promoting sustainable increase in income for coffee farmers through increased productivity.

Data from the Coffee Directorate shows that the current national production per tree stands at an average of 2 kilograms per tree.

Munya says that should all go as planned; the production is set to increase to 5 kilograms per tree by 2024.

By Wangari Mwangi

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