15 February 2016

Kenya: Coffee Farmers Reject Uhuru Directive

Farmers have rejected a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta to form a task force to look into the ongoing crisis in the coffee sector.

Representatives of farmers from coffee growing zones around the country yesterday turned down the directive arguing that a task force would not solve their problems as this was not the first time such a move was made.

They also said that such task forces usually end up being part of the cartels of middlemen who rob farmers of their returns and leave them impoverished.

On Saturday, President Kenyatta issued an order for a committee to be formulated to probe the problems facing the coffee farmers during closed door meeting with central region leaders in Nyeri. Some of the issues that were raised about the sector are coffee theft and pricing of the commodity.

The farmers however opposed the move saying that the president should have issued a directive to have coffee sold by the national government under one pool.

COFFEE PRICES

"We want the president to give a directive that will see to it that coffee farmers benefit not some committee that," said Mr Harrison Munyi, the national chair of the Peasant Coffee Farmers Association of Kenya (PCFAK).

In their list of demands, the farmers also said that they want the pricing of the crop raised to minimum of Sh200 for every kilogram of cherry coffee delivered. Currently the pricing averages between Sh30 and Sh80.

According to the farmers, they only get one per cent of returns on coffee sale. Neighbouring Uganda gets up to 80 per cent on the sale of the crop.

They also want the procedure for the sale of the crop revised so that the number of middlemen is reduced. As of now coffee goes from the farmer, to the factory, then the miller, through to the marketer before reaching the buyer.

"For farmers to get fair dues, coffee should go through the factory only before reaching the national government. These middlemen are the cartels who are reaping from farmers' hard work," said Mr Munyi, adding that county governments should also not be involved.

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