Farmers who supply their coffee to Murang’a Cooperative Union are set to benefit from minimum guaranteed price for cherry delivered beginning October this year.
The Union has announced it will set Sh70 as minimum price for every kilo of cherry supplied to the milling plant.
All the 144 coffee factories within Murang’a County are affiliated to the Union which is currently in the process of relocating its milling plant from Maragua town to the society farm at Ikundu area.
Governor Mwangi wa Iria commissioned construction of the new mill saying the new facility will assist in increasing coffee prices hence better returns to farmers.
The new milling plant which is set to be operational by November, will help farmers enjoy minimum guaranteed price for coffee delivered as well as access subsidized farms inputs.
The new plant that will be constructed to a tune of Sh50 million is set to increase milling capacity from 1.5 to 2. 5 metric tons per hour.
Wa Iria noted that the facility will help the farmers to process, brand and package their coffee which will attract better prices locally and internationally.
Currently, the local coffee factories have been paying divergent rates ranging from Sh40 to Sh120.
Governor Wa Iria said setting a minimum guaranteed price will safeguard farmers from being exploited by their respective societies.
“Murang’a coffee is known for its good quality. The milling plant has already acquired a license to export coffee as well as sell their products at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange,” Wa Iria said.
He further said debts associated with the union should not bar farmers from getting better prices arguing that the old debts need to be audited before arrangements are made for their repayment.
“There are some old debts which the union is associated with, there is a need to edit those debts and find out if they are genuine. Farmers should not be prevented from getting better pay because of long term debts,” remarked Wa Iria.
Apart from the price, the Union is working out to give farmers high yielding coffee seedlings.
From the next rain season, farmers affiliated to the union will be issued with the best coffee variety with the aim of increasing production.
Last year, the county produced more than 30 million kilos of coffee with the sector players advocating for more production.
Wa Iria lauded many reforms the government is making in the coffee sector saying the move will help revive the industry, which for long has been performing poorly.
He said the county government has set aside Sh100 million to buy new pulping machines for each of the local coffee factories to reduce wastage and improve coffee quality.
The coffee factories usually use old machines thus more wastage which affects farmers’ income.
Murang’a Coop Union’s Chairman Mr Francis Ngone assured farmers that the construction will be hastened and by end of November this year, milling will commence at the new plant.
He called upon affiliated cooperative societies to audit their debts and present reports to the Union for appropriate assistance.
“We want to see all old debts are settled so that we can move ahead and ensure farmers get better income from their produce,” Ngone said.
By Bernard Munyao