The government has commenced audit of coffee cooperatives in Nyeri County with a view of unearthing issues that have been ailing the industry for decades.
The challenges have led to some farmers abandoning the crop and others uprooting it all the same.
The audit being carried out by a team of officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives in conjunction with the county government came after Nyeri was selected as one of the pilot counties in the push for the revival of the cash crop.
The team leader, Mr. Samuel Kuria said they will be looking at a wide spectrum of issues, ranging from performance audit of cooperatives and their assets, coffee production, processing and marketing as well as digitization.
Kuria said they will also be seeking to get data on the debt status of all the 32 cooperatives in the area, as well as information on number of employees and number of trees against production.
He said the audit report would go a long way in assisting the government to come up with a national development policy for coffee in the country with a view of promoting the industry and improving farmers’ earnings.
Speaking today at a meeting with Nyeri Governor, Mutahi Kahiga in his office, Kuria said the development comes following an outcry by farmers over poor returns and mismanagement of cooperatives.
Cooperatives have been on the spotlight over poor management of the trade that has exposed farmers to exploitation by middlemen and cartels in the value chain.
Less than a decade ago, coffee farming was one of the well-paying jobs earning the country billion of shillings in foreign exchange, but things have changed over the years with farmers earnings dwindling at the expense of brokers.
Governor Kahiga decried the decline in quantity and quality of coffee in the area that has for long been known globally for top class coffee.
He called on farmers not to give up on the crop, as there was a sign of better times ahead with the efforts being made by the government towards revamping the industry.
“We must not give up and I urge farmers not to uproot their coffee and those who have abandoned must be encouraged to go back,” said the governor.
He said the county had 13.8 million coffee trees, but only 12 million were in production, adding that his administration was looking into ways of putting the balance in production.
Kahiga continued that production per tree was at all-time low of partly 2 kilos per tree against a potential production of a maximum of 30.
He expressed optimism that the efforts being put in place to revive the ailing industry would bear fruits and attract even the youth into coffee farming.
The audit is being carried out in tandem with the recommendations made by the coffee taskforce formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.