8 February 2016

Kenya: Farmers Urge Uhuru to Solve Coffee Woes

Coffee farmers from Mount Kenya want to hold a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta over the sector's crisis when he tours the region threatening to uproot the crop if no solution is reached.

The 400 farmers converged at Kerugoya Stadium on Monday to chat the way forward.

They spoke of how cartels have infiltrated the coffee market and exploited them for decades. They said only the President, who will be in the region Wednesday, could intervene and save the situation.

They were drawn from Kirinyaga, Meru, Nyeri, Embu and Kiambu.

"We have been exploited for many years and we want to tell the President to his face that we are suffering. We want him to ensure that coffee cartels are kicked out of the market and if he does not meet us, then we shall uproot the crop and venture into other farming activities," said Mr Maitho Njiraini, a farmer.

They observed that their meagre earnings make it difficult for them to support their families.

"Sometimes we are paid Sh50 per kilogramme of coffee delivered which is pure exploitation," said another farmer, Mr Francis Gatimu.

The farmers said for them to break even, one kilogramme of coffee should be paid between Sh150 and Sh200, adding they should be allowed to sell their coffee directly through their societies, to stop exploitation by brokers.

Ndia MP Stephen Ngare said that other legislators from the coffee growing area would also raise the issue with the Head of State.

He said: "Unless the President listens to the farmers and acts urgently, coffee farming would be doomed. Already some farmers have started uprooting coffee due to frustrations."


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