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Boost to coffee farmers as MPs endorse legal changes

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua during a meeting with MPs drawn from committees of the Senate and the National Assembly on Agriculture.

Members of Parliament will expedite proposed bills and other frameworks to midwife coffee subsector reforms.

The development comes after Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua hosted MPs drawn from committees of the Senate and the National Assembly on Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Cooperatives, the Coffee Reforms Caucus and other legislators from coffee growing areas, for a way forward on the reforms.

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The Senators and Members National Assembly agreed to work together in finalizing various legal frameworks, which have resulted from extensive consultations with farmers and stakeholders in the sector.

The lawmakers endorsed the changes and pledges to fast-track the process of amending the Coffee Bill, which is pending at the Senate, and the Cooperatives Act.

“The reforms are unstoppable. After the coffee forum held in Meru (in June 2023) the cartels started a scheme to discredit the reforms by trying to create an artificial crisis about the coffee auction and  licensing. We are fully prepared. When the President and I undertook these reforms, we knew what we were getting into. We knew it would not be easy and that they would fight viciously,” said the Deputy President at the Official Residence in Karen, Nairobi, on Friday.

He said President William Ruto’s Administration is determined to take back the once-lucrative subsector to the farmer farmers by eliminating exploitation from brokers and middlemen, who have been making huge profits.

“The Coffee subsector reforms have entered the homestretch. Nothing will stop us. After this meeting, we will have a solid way forward to making the necessary legal, policy and operational adjustments through Parliament, to usher in a new era. We are calling on the lawmakers to move swiftly and make the necessary amendments to the Bills, Acts and any other relevant regulations to provide the legal backing in fully rolling out the reforms,” said Gachagua.

The DP noted that the subsector supports about 5 million Kenyans and is key to the country’s economy adding that President William Ruto will not back down on implementation of the reforms despite resistance and fightback by cartels.

“The Administration to settle out the coffee issues is this one. The political goodwill is 100 per cent and the President has already instructed that the National Treasury is on standby. In case the cartels refuse to buy coffee to create an artificial crisis to try to stop us from the reforms, the National Treasury has set aside money to buy the coffee from the farmers as we push the reforms,” he said.

The Deputy President also said the reforms are targeting the Cooperatives Act because some coffee societies have been marred by corruption and maladministration of finances.

“We have to look at governance issues in the cooperative societies because coffee is about small-scale farmers and cooperatives are part of the chain. Cost of production is high because of mismanagement in cooperative societies and corruption. Some societies are captured by millers and marketers. Some of the leaders may be financed by the cartels to fight the reforms,” said the Deputy President.

To rescue dwindling coffee farming in the country and maximize production, the Deputy President urged farmers to use the government’s subsidized fertilizer.

In addition, he asked the lawmakers to address the issue of coffee exchange so that it can be farmer-based and the farmers are represented in the trade and auction of their produce at international markets.

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