Kenya: Govt's Sh3bn Coffee Cherry Fund Fails to Lure Many Small-Scale Farmers in Central Kenya

Nyeri — Most small-scale coffee farmers in Central Kenya just won't borrow from the government's Sh3 billion cherry advance levy fund, according to co-operative society officials in the region.

Mukua Chiira, an official at the Ndaroini Co-operative Society in Mathira told Capital Business that most farmers are apprehensive about the hidden agenda that will come with getting the money, which includes losing their free will on who gets to mill and market their produce.

The government set up the revolving fund to give farmers cheap loans as they wait for their earnings from coffee marketers.

Chiira said getting the funds, which are being channeled through the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union, will force farmers to get tangled with the government-backed miller, hence monopolizing it and stifling competition.

"The main reason why most of the farmers are yet to borrow these funds is due to the fact that most of them believe that channeling of the funds through new KPCU is aimed at giving the government-sponsored mill advantage of milling and marketing their crop," said Mukua Chiira an official of cooperative society in Mathira.

The New KPCU came into effect after its predecessor KPCU was liquidated owing to decades of mismanagement, including the misappropriation of farmers' funds.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has been holding meetings with coffee cooperative officials in coffee-growing areas to assure farmers that there is guaranteed safety of funds being disbursed by the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union.

Speaking in Nyeri earlier this month, Munya said the government has successfully weeded out cartels that had looted the old Union to the level of bankrupting it.

"New KPCU is fully under the control of the national government and for that matter, I want to assure you that no single shilling belonging to you farmers will disappear," he said.

KPCU, according to the CS, has the capacity to mill all coffee grown in the country in its Sagana, Meru and Ndandora coffee mills.

Munya however said that the government will not be pushing farmers to mill or market their coffee through KPCU, adding that any engagement will be on a voluntary basis.

"The government will not force any farmer to take their coffee produce through KPCU. It will only serve willing and interested farmers," he said.

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