By Regina Manyara
Coffee farmers in Baringo County are urging the government to fast track the disbursement of the funds meant for debt waivers to cushion them against ongoing predicaments in the sector.
The farmers argue they are not able to apply for new loans to buy farm inputs due to the arrears on existing loans that they have not been able to pay back.
During last year’s Jamhuri Day celebrations President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the government would extend Ksh 2.4 billion shillings debt waiver to coffee farmers.
The funds were to be applied to upscale coffee production and boost farmers’ income amid complaints from coffee farmers over perennial losses.
Some of the farmers had put so much faith in the debt waiver presidential decree, since it has become difficult for them to access credit due to their outstanding debts.
Clement Kirui, a coffee farmer who had borrowed a loan ten years ago, says the ongoing drought has resulted to low yields which have made it impossible to raise more funds to pay back his loans.
Farmers also argue that marketing and pricing of coffee berries has remained a bane to them.
The farmers now want the Ministry of Agriculture to fast track the implementations the Coffee task force report which among others recommends removal of middlemen in the coffee value chain, as well as better incentives for farmers to increase productivity and income.