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Jubilation for coffee farmers as government reforms sector

The Cabinet Secretary for Co-operatives and Micro, small and medium enterprises Simon Chelugui has assured coffee farmers across the country of streamlining the coffee sector to generate profit for them.

Chelugui who spoke in Kainga stadium in Kangundo Machakos county, during the launch of the Coffee Cherry advance revolving fund, urged farmers to take advantage of the government support and reforms to achieve high-quality coffee production and to earn them profits.

Among the reforms that the CS promised were the Re-establishment of the Coffee Research Foundation and the Coffee Board of Kenya to be in charge of marketing and licensing of the 14 unions that are to be formed to represent coffee farmers.

“When we open up the coffee market the unions will be the eyes and ears of the coffee farmers,” said Chelugui.

The CS said the coffee research foundation will be reinstated through the cooperatives and coffee bill currently in parliament so that they will have science-led farming where they will have seeds that have been tested and registered through the research foundation.

He urged Machakos coffee farmers to ensure they send delegates or representatives who are people of integrity to represent them at the union and who will fight for their rights.

“We will go back to the days when coffee farmers would stand out in a society where just being a coffee farmer guarantees your child to be admitted to school,” said Chelugui.

Chelugui added that farmers will be getting Sh 80 per kg from coffee cherries up from the previous price of Sh 20 per kg through the Cherry advance revolving fund.

“We are paying Sh 40 on arrival at the primary factory and Sh 40 after it has been dried and taken to the mill summing up the total to Sh80 which will be paid within a month,” added Chelugui

He said they would allow the farmers to choose whether to be paid in dollars or Kenya shillings.

However, the CS decried cartels taking advantage of farmers and warned that they will be toned down through the new regulations where millers will be licensed by the county, the marketers, and brokers to get authorization from the Capital Markets Authority.

Machakos Governor Wavinya Ndeti said that her government has laid elaborate plans to ensure a complete turnaround of the coffee sector through strategic measures and policy framework.

She said that through the Department of Agriculture, they are focused on improving the quality and quantity of production, soil testing and distribution of affordable farm inputs, and reforming the coffee cooperatives society’s management committees.

Wavinya noted coffee farming in Machakos is being undertaken by small-scale farmers through the cooperative movement where Machakos has 25 co-operative societies with over 55000 members.

“I am happy that coffee farmers can now access the coffee Cherry fund and this milestone which has been facilitated by the government will go a long way in reviving coffee growing in Machakos,” added Wavinya.

She appealed to the national government to consider extending a debt waiver to the co-operatives just like it has been done in other areas so that the coffee farmers can start on a clean slate without any debts.

“Many of our co-operatives are struggling with huge debts owed to commercial banks and other multinational agencies and it has created a major challenge to survival and growth of the entire coffee value chain,” said Wavinya.

Other leaders present were Patrick Kiburi who is the Principal Secretary for Co-operatives and Micro small and medium enterprises development, among other county officials and local leaders from Machakos County.

By Anne Kangero

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