Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has endorsed Coffee Cherry Advance Revolving Fund recommendations.
Waiguru said the fund will benefit small scale farmers and shield them from further exploitation by middle men who have been buying coffee at unpredictable and exploitative prices.
The Governor, speaking during a public consultation forum held in Kutus town Wednesday, said that the reforms will put money in the farmers’ pockets.
She said they have scrutinized the regulations and she was certain that the fund will benefit farmers, adding that together with other coffee stakeholders they have agreed to forge a common agreement to welcome any process that saves farmers from coffee cartels.
“We have interrogated the process and anything that moves the conversation forward and helps the farmers has my full support,” she said
Waiguru thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for the initiative and for making it an inclusive conversation where all stakeholders can add their input into the regulations. She said that the fund will be one of greatest legacies by the Jubilee government.
The governor also recommended that coffee growing counties caucus of relevant county executive members be represented in the revolving fund board.
She also wants the government to add at least Sh1 billion as stabilization fund to cushion farmers against fluctuating cherry prices caused by prevailing international market rates.
Speaking at the same forum, the chairman of the revolving fund task force, Geoffrey Malombe said that Kirinyaga was pivotal in matters regarding coffee given that it is the second largest coffee producer in the country.
He said that the objective of the cherry fund is to cushion coffee farmers against volatility of cherry prices.
He said that the fact that farmers have had to wait for pay until their coffee is sold which may take up to nine months had been a source of anguish for many families.
The chairman added that the new KPCU had settled all debts owed the former KPCU in an objective process noting that former shareholders will get a refund of their shares.
“One of the recommendations is that the government will pay farmers an advance 40 percent of sales of the past year’s commodity exchange rate or an advance of Sh 20 per kilo.” Malombe said.
Waiguru said that she will do anything to support the process, adding that the recommendations in the regulations are in line with her vision of getting a fixed price for farmers for at least 10 years.
She said that she had already found an interested investor willing to buy Kirinyaga Coffee at an assured minimum price and the county is facilitating talks between the farmers and the investor.
Waiguru commended the task force and expressed confidence that it was going to deliver on its mandate.
The coffee Cherry Advance Revolving Fund is one of President Uhuru’s initiatives in reviving the coffee sector that has been ailing for a long time.
Other leaders who attended the consultative meeting included Nominated Member of Parliament Cecily Mbarire who said farmers were still inquisitive with the involvement of the new KPCU in handling the fund.
Mbarire said the government should establish a fund like the Women Enterprise Fund to handle the money instead of the KPCU.
“I want to put a word of caution to the government, KPCU let farmers down in the past and they have a bad history when it comes to dealing with the farmer’s money,” she said.
Mbarire said the funding should also be used to empower the Saccos instead of the already well established banks.
By Irungu Mwangi