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State to kick-start processed coffee initiative

Josphat Kinyua

Coffee farmers are set to benefit from good prices if the State moves to ensure the crop is processed and marketed as a value-added product.

Speaking in Mukurweini over the weekend, Deputy President William Ruto said the government is in the second phase of reviving coffee farming and it will not allow coffee dealers to buy the crop in raw form but in value added form, meaning that the crop will be packaged in labelled packs.

“I attended an investor conference in Rwanda where we as African delegates realised there is huge trade deficit between us and western countries.

One, we sell our products in raw form, as opposed to them for instance, their vehicles arrive here completely assembled and that’s what we will do with our coffee,’’ Ruto said.

Raw coffee

He said that it’s unfortunate for coffee farmers to sell their crops raw and remain improvised instead of selling them in fished form to ensure they earn premium prices.

Ruto said that in 2013 the government paid Sh3 billion owed by coffee cooperatives in form of debts but that has proved to be counterproductive hence the move to ensure that value addition is realised.

“We as a government had identified huge debts owed by co-operatives as the stumbling block for improvement of coffee, however, we have realised that is not enough hence our decision that to sell coffee in processed form,’’ said Ruto.

The Deputy President said that the government has set aside Sh1 billion to revive the sector through provision of right husbandry to farmers.

Earlier Nyeri senator Ephrahim Maina had cited split of cooperatives into non-economical units as the reason behind declining coffee production in the country leading to uprooting of crops by farmers on poor pay.

Split cooperatives

“Your excellence, the reason why coffee farming is no longer viable is because we spilt our giants cooperatives into small units which cannot  sustain themselves, leave alone to pay farmers that is why they are uprooting this crop’’ said Maina.

Maina said that if the government is serious in improving coffee, these units must be scrapped and reverted to profitable units as first step in reviving the crop.

In 2014, Nyeri county government pooled the entire crop together after initiating a programme to mill and market coffee at Sagana. However, some stakeholders and millers faulted the move saying farmers may lose out due to lack of traceability of the produce.

They were, however, overruled by farmers who embraced the move with 23 societies joining the bandwagon after expressing their views that they have been exploited for a long time.