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Small scale farmers call for amendment of two Coffee Bills

Small scale farmers have called for amendment of two coffee bills that are currently in parliament.

The growers under the Kenya coffee producers association (KCPA) stated that the two bills namely National Assembly coffee bill 2021 and Senate coffee bill 2020 should be harmonized.

Addressing the press in Nairobi, the KCPA chairman Peter Gikonyo said apart from the two bills being fast-tracked by two different entities , if not harmonized  will in the long run escalate supremacy wars and equally frustrate President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reform agenda in the subsector. 

The Senate is fast tracking Coffee Bill 2020 and the National Assembly is handling the Coffee Bill 2021 and according to the KCPA, the proposed legislation on coffee needs to be revised to incorporate more issues, particularly those touching on farmers.

“The bills have gaps which if not addressed might disrupt the industry more. The two bills have been read for the first time in respective houses and currently each house’s agriculture committee is receiving views from the members of the public to enlighten them before the second reading. We have raised our concerns with the senate and national assembly and we are pleading with them to address them for the general welfare of the smallholder farmer and the overall national economy,” said Gikonyo.

Issues of contention that the farmers have with the bills include, farmers’ representation in the key institutions namely Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK) and Coffee Research Foundation (CRI) and also promotion of split of cooperative societies and killing of cooperative societies.

Other touchy issues, comprise unrealistic operational costs for cooperative societies, Coffee proceeds payments (Direct settlement system), and Dual registration of millers as marketing agents and lack of sound procedure to the appointment of millers.

Chairman Kenya Coffee Producers Association Peter Gikonyo (right) talking to (small scale farmers) Micheal Kahura(center) and Peter Nderi(left) about the Bill during a press conference.  Photo by Wangari Ndirangu.

KCPA chief executive officer Sarah Nyaga called for the review of the two bills and development of a bill that will facilitate the farmers to perform their key role in the coffee farming business bearing in mind that they were the principal owner of coffee.

“The farmer must be respected, appreciated and consulted on all matters from production to market for the growth and sustainability of the coffee industry. Develop and implement specific policy on coffee production to save the industry from collapse,” said Nyaga.

The two bills propose that the farmers’ representatives in these key farmer organisations will be appointed by the government.

The bills also propose that a percentage levy of Nairobi Coffee Exchange value for coffee sold will be applied for operations of Coffee Board and Coffee Research Institute while the sample fee shall form part of the income for Nairobi Coffee Exchange. 

The coffee sub sector in Kenya is an important exchange earner providing approximately USD 230million annually and a source of livelihood for over 800,000 smallholder coffee farmers.

The sub-sector is also key to the central agricultural role in contributing and realization of Kenya Vision 2030 and the Government’s big four agenda.

Coffee auction prices for crop 2020/2021 have held a steady increase throughout the auction period with the auction price increasing in January this year to USD 6.34 a kg up from USD 5.98 per kg in December 2020.

According to KCPA, Currently majority of farmers are happy with the good coffee prices amidst the challenges the industry experienced following the outbreak of COVID 19. So far most cooperatives particularly in Kirinyaga and Kericho counties have been able to pay over Sh100 per kg of cherry.

By Wangari Ndirangu

 

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