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Hopes high for new gov’t to rescue ailing coffee sector

Coffee farmers in Kirinyaga County have expressed hope that the new parliament will pass a bill that will rescue the coffee sector.

The farmers said coffee farming is a highly profitable activity that has been used by few people to exploit farmers leaving them impoverished servants.

David Njoka, a coffee farmer in Inoi Ward, Kirinyaga Central, said the outgoing Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya did his best to support the sector despite the politics that surrounded the sector.

He said the sector should be streamlined to ensure the farmer benefits from the crop. “Munya tried but there was a lot of politics in it. Those individuals who are surrounding the coffee sector should be removed,” Njoka said

He also noted that they, with other farmers, visited other counties like Nyeri and concluded that coffee farming is profitable business which only needs government intervention in removing cartels.

In addition, he called for lowering of pesticides as well as provision of coffee stems to the new farmers. “Coffee farming has a lot of money; from the evidence in counties we have gone it only needs assistance from the government. The cost of pesticides should also be reduced,” he said.

“For youths who want to start coffee farming the government can provide 30 to 50 stems as the capital,” Njoka added.

Njoka said these depend on the will of the new government to assist the farmers as they raised the issues during the meeting with leaders in the sidelines of campaigns

James Kinyua, another coffee farmer, said the new government should pass and implement the coffee bill. He said they elected new leaders hoping they will see the coffee price per kilo double.

“The new government which we elected because of their agenda on agriculture should help us. We want to see price per kilogram move from 100 to 200,” Kinyua said.

“We urge the new government to check on the coffee sector as a matter of priority. We forwarded our requests during economic forums both verbal and written,” Kinyua said.

He said commodity funds are not friendly as cooperatives charge high interest rates and ask for security and also too much bureaucracy. He further call for reduction of inputs and fertilizers.

“Commodity funds are simply not available because you fill forms and forget. The fertilizer should also be reduced to Sh2000 per 50kg bag,” he added.

He said that the government should come up with the reality that the majority of farmers are not happy with the coffee prices amidst the challenges the industry experienced following the outbreak of Covid-19 as well as management of the sector.

By Mutai Kipngetich

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