Commodities

Cooperatives frustrate uptake of coffee cherry fund

coffee

A farmer picks coffee berries in Nyeri, central Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Coffee farmers have only taken up Sh50 million from the Sh3 billion cherry fund with the Agriculture ministry blaming the low uptake on cooperatives that lure growers with their loans.
  • Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya said coffee cooperative societies are holding farmers hostage by persuading them to take their loans, limiting the absorption of the Sh3 billion cherry funds.

Coffee farmers have only taken up Sh50 million from the Sh3 billion cherry fund with the Agriculture ministry blaming the low uptake on cooperatives that lure growers with their loans.

Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya said coffee cooperative societies are holding farmers hostage by persuading them to take their loans, limiting the absorption of the Sh3 billion cherry funds and frustrating the efforts by the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union to disburse 100 percent of the funds.

“These cooperatives have been convincing growers to take their loans as opposed to cherry fund, which turn they recover from the sale of the growers produce,” said Mr Munya.

Nyeri is leading in the absorption rate having with farmers having taken Sh23 million within the review period running from last August to date, followed by Meru at Sh10 million and Murang’a at Sh3.8 million.

In March, Mr Munya said the government was considering expanding the Sh3 billion coffee cherry fund to offer additional services in the sector following a slow uptake by farmers.

The Cabinet secretary said even though the fund was meant for loaning, it is sufficiently large and can be utilised for other activities within the sector.

“Even though it was meant for loaning, we think it’s large enough and can be utilised for other things, but we still want it to remain a revolving fund to help stabilise the coffee sector. We do not want to take it to risky business,” said Mr Munya.

“We are trying to see what other services are there that we may review regulations so that to support the farmers because that money is there and given the size of the sector, all of it may not go to loaning.”