Taming cartels tops agenda of Uhuru coffee task force

Coffee ready for sampling at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange. PHOTO | FILE
Coffee ready for sampling at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange. PHOTO | FILE 

The coffee task force formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta last week faces a hard time returning sanity in the sector dominated by cartels even as real estate expands into farmlands.

For years farmers have suffered in the hands of brokers who offer low prices for their commodity only to later sell the same at a premium in the world market.

Mr Kenyatta appointed a 19-member committee to address these and other challenges.

The task force will be chaired by Professor Joseph Kieyah assisted by Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe, according to a Gazette Notice issued on Friday.

Its draws members from the government and private sector with lawyers Dann Mwangi and Morris Kaburu sitting in as joint secretaries.

Coffee farmers have been forced to opt for other crops after many years of being denied the benefit of their crop and as a result production has drop.

There are a number of players between farmers and at the coffee exchange where their crop is sold, a move that has seen some of the counties push for direct sales to dismantle the cartels.

When farmers take their coffee to the miller as a co-operative society, the produce is graded and handed to the appointed marketing agent.

In most cases the marketing agent is the same as the miller, who sometimes lies about the quality of the beans to buy them at a lower price.

Over the years these cartels have been stemming competition by positioning themselves at vantage points where they control the chain by building some sophisticated structures.