Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has said the majority of coffee societies in the country are mismanaged, subjecting farmers to pain and suffering.
Munya observed that the officials elected to manage the coffee societies have engaged in corrupt deals that have indulged the farmers in debts and poverty.
He said coffee cooperatives were usually audited by internal auditors who colluded with the factory officials to deny farmers the truth on how their money has been spent.
The CS added that farmers also lost their earnings through poor managed production and marketing chain of their coffee.
According to Munya the government is determined to revise the situation and revamp the sector which for a long time has been performing poorly prompting scores of farmers to abandon coffee.
The CS spoke in Murang’a County where he visited several societies during public participation for the proposed Coffee Bill 2020.
He noted that if the bill is enacted, proposed changes would ensure farmers got maximum profit from their production
He explained that the proposals advocated for employment of measures from production to marketing of coffee.
“We want to start from testing soils so we are sure of the type of fertilizer to be applied. We will also bring in high yielding coffee variety as production of coffee is a key component in reviving the sector,” said Munya at Kirere area in Kigumo Sub County.
The proposed law, he added, will ensure officials of cooperative societies were only elected for not more than two terms.
“The officials who have overstayed in leadership are to blame for the downfall of this sector since they have developed ways on how to siphon farmers’ earnings,” he added.
Munya further said digitization of operations of coffee factories and replacement of aged equipment and machines would help to cut production costs thus enabling farmers to accrue more earnings.
The CS explained that coffee factories would be free to register as autonomous societies and appoint their own millers.
“The millers will be required to disclose the milling costs to farmers and the producers will be in a position to monitor the whole milling process. The Bill also caps milling cost to Kshs. 4, 000 per tonne, and milling cost not more than 18 percent. We understand farmers have been denied money after society officials claim a lot of money is lost through milling losses,” he added.
Meanwhile, the CS encouraged farmers to take advantage of cherry advance funds which the government has set aside to boost coffee production.
“Forms to apply for cherry funds are found in local administration offices. Pick and fill them and once they are signed by cooperative societies, the money will be sent to individual farmers. Two years ago, the government set Kshs. 3 billion to give farmers advance and save them from accruing expensive bank loans,” added Munya.
The cherry advance fund is levied 3% and a farmer can access up to 40% the value of coffee delivered in the cooperative societies.
“If some officials of the societies fail to sign for you the forms, let us know and will change the whole management of the respective society. The money is there and meant to support farmers before they are paid their whole amount,” he further said.
The CS was accompanied by Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata.