Farmers Want More Time For Coffee Reforms Team After June 30 Expiry Date
Coffee farmers countrywide have expressed mixed reactions over expiry of the term of the Coffee Sub-sector Reforms Implementation Committee, with some of them saying its mandate should be extended. The 14-member committee chaired by Prof Joseph Kieyah expires on June 30.
Despite the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (NKPU) being given the green light to administer the Cherry Revolving Fund, farmers said there were other aspects of reforms in the sector that were yet to be achieved, leaving them wondering who would be responsible for their implementation.
View pictures in App save up to 80% data. Mr James Ireri, a farmer from Embu county said since the committee started meeting farmers in forums, growers had been informed of the progress of reforms with high prospects to the ailing sector’s revival.
“There are other reforms especially the one touching on a subsidy program for farm inputs that we have not been told its fate. Our fear is that if farmers are left without somebody to listen to their grievances, they will continue suffering,” Mr Ireri said yesterday in a phone interview.
“Coffee Farmers continue to face challenges of lack of inputs whose prices are exorbitant, degraded soils and competition from other emerging cash crops. Some officials manning coffee societies also lack capacity and engage in rampant theft and these issues should be addressed,” he said.
Mr Robert Kaaria, a farmer from Meru county said reforms in the sector were timely, but added that farmers should be fully involved.
Concerning marketing of coffee, Mr Ireri said there were brokers and cartels who were trying to frustrate reforms, and called on the Agriculture ministry to dismantle them. “Political goodwill is also lacking and farmers have been left to their own devices,” he added.
The committee was currently compiling a status report according to Prof Kieyah, who however declined to discuss its contents. “We will present our report and I am not best placed to comment on it,” he said.
On the Cherry Fund, NKPCU chairman Mr Henry Kinyua said the parastatal had already received Sh 2.7 billion after Sh 300 million was used to pay debts owed to farmers and banks, adding that farmers had started applying for the facility.
“We already have the money in our accounts and farmers should not be worried. At the moment we want to see how we will revitalize factories using the Sh 1.5 billion from the World Bank so that societies are able to process cherry with minimal cost,” he said on phone yesterday.
Farmers will be paid Sh 20 a kilo for cherry delivered to factories in a programme that was initially expected to kick off early this year but was delayed by late approval of the regulations by parliament.
The fund is being implemented as part of reforms expected to revive the sector that is currently on its death bed. Due to years of mismanagement in the sector, farmers got frustrated and turned to other crops, leading to its near collapse.