Kisii orders societies to process coffee with one miller

Kisii County government has directed all coffee societies to take the produce to a central miller in a move aimed at streamlining the sector and boosting income from the cash crop.

Agriculture minister Vincent Sagwe issued a circular on Monday to 22 cooperative societies, to the effect that the Gusii Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union would be the only processor of coffee in Kisii.

“As we reorganise the operations of the coffee sector with a view to enhancing farmers’ earnings, it has been decided that all coffee from the societies is forwarded to their union for milling and marketing,” part of the directive said. He added that the lack of a centralised milling system had cost the county revenue.

“Uncoordinated milling is a major anomaly that has created a conduit for stealing from farmers. A lack of brand identity and a niche market are challenges that must be urgently addressed through a policy framework going forward,” said Mr Sagwe.

The order is seen as a step towards implementing the recommendations of a taskforce report that were released last week.

The 14-member team gave a raft of measures to ensure farmers get value for their money after they found out that the coffee sector was on its knees due to infiltration of brokers and other middlemen.

Among the measures are harmonised milling and marketing, a review of borrowing policies, prosecution of corrupt persons and the issuance of payslips to farmers.

Governor James Ongwae, who commissioned the taskforce, has also promised to form a team that will find ways of marketing the coffee.

“The subcommittee will deal purely on marketing and will undertake feasibility studies on value addition in collaboration with neighbouring counties of Migori, Nyamira and Homa Bay,” said Mr Ongwae.

The governor said that he formed the taskforce to find ways of reviving the sector that had been marred with “undervaluing of produce, management teams receiving advance payments and taking loans without farmers’ knowledge, coffee theft and corruption”.

The report estimates that the county has 75,000 coffee farmers.

It noted that the farmers in the county owe various institutions Sh142 million.