Nyeri — Panic and fear has gripped coffee farmers in Mt Kenya region following the realization of poor prices at this year's coffee auction.
Following imminent poor pay, coffee farmers and their leaders now want the Kenya Kwanza administration to set up a stabilization fund to cushion farmers and preempt abandonment of the crop termed as black man Gold.
Speaking to the media Nyeri town MP Duncan Maina a member of a group of leaders championing the rights of farmers said that it is apparent that the 2020/2022 crop will be poorly paid when one examines current prices at the auction.
"For us, as leaders it's clear that this time around farmers will be paid poorly with pay expected to decrease by Sh100, we have realized that although this year's early crop was more compared to other years, prices at the auction were low and this will definitely lower returns and that is why we are demanding a fund similar to the Price Stabilisation (Stabex) funds and coffee development fund," said Maina.
According to statics from the auction, this year's early crop realized low prices of between USD180 and 200 for 50 kilograms of clean coffee as opposed to high prices of between USD300 to 500 for the 2019/2020 crop.
Maina says that he is disappointed by the supplementary budget which was presented to the assembly as it lacks no provision for money to cushion farmers or even provide subsidies to the crop.
"Kenya Kwanza government rode on the promise of guaranteed maximum price for coffee and tea farmers however it's unfortunate that we have no money meant for farmers in the two sectors, this will complicate matters for our government since farm inputs are out of reach for our farmers and worse still they will be paid less," said Maina.
He said that it is high time for government planners to take coffee farming seriously since the crop and tea are the leading exchange earner for the nation.
John Gitonga Ngatia a farmer from Kamuyu said that unless the government moves in, they will surely be paid less as compared to last year when they were paid between Sh100 and 120 per raw kilo of cherry
"It is unfortunate that this government has come too late in the day to realize that we will be paid poorly and they promised us that we will have a minimum paid price but we have our votes intact we will wait but we will act in the ballot box eventually " said Ngatia.
In January, Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua was tasked to oversee the coffee and tea sectors in a move aimed at improving the fortunes of farmers.
On his appointment, Gachagua declared war on cartels which he said have been milking farmers dry taking huge chunks of farmers' hard-earned money only to pay them peanuts.