Coffee-growing counties have moved to court seeking to quash regulations published in June, which assigned some licensing roles to the national government.
The Council of Governors (CoG) argue in a petition that other than clawing back on devolved functions, the amendments that were published on June 9 by the Ministry of Agriculture will deprive coffee growers of their proprietary rights as owners of the crop.
The CoG further says the Crops (Coffee) (General) Amendment Regulations 2022 will also overburden them as they will now be required to obtain two licenses to mill and market their own produce.
“During the entirety of the formulation of the impugned regulations by the 1st respondent (the ministry), farmers and other stakeholders in the coffee sector were not granted any opportunity to air their views,” CoG said through lawyer Eugene Lawi.
The CoG says failure to hold consultations with them or the 10 coffee-growing counties undermines national values and principles of governance.
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi certified the case as urgent and directed CoG to file and serve the petition to other parties within seven days. The case will be mentioned on September 8, for directions.
The council has named the CS for the Ministry of Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Authority and the Attorney General as parties in the case. It has also named 10 coffee-growing counties and the National Coffee Co-operative union (NACCU) as interested parties.
The petition states that the amendments claw back on licensing and regulatory functions constitutionally assigned to county governments, which have now been taken by CMA.
The functions include a grower milling license, which authorises the coffee grower to mill and market coffee either directly or through the coffee exchange.
This has now been split into two- a grower milling license issued by the county government and a grower marketing license issued by the national government.
The amendment also took away the function of a commercial milling permit, which authorises the holder to conduct the business of milling coffee at a fee, and now has been replaced by the miller marketer license to be issued by the national government.
Previous regulations allowed county governments to issue pulping station, coffee growers milling, commercial, coffee roaster and warehouse license while CMA was mandated to issue coffee liquoreur’s independent cupping laboratory, coffee buyers, warehouseman, import and export licenses.
The Capital Markets (Coffee Exchange) Regulations 2020, which were gazetted in April 2019, gave the authority the mandate to license coffee exchange and brokers.
This is in addition to the establishment of a direct settlement system (DSS) for an advanced and transparent process of the payment of coffee sales proceeds.
The CMA has so far fully licensed five brokers to trade at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE).