Task force on coffee sector refers farmers to Uhuru in court case

Mr Harrison Munyi (centre), the National Farmers Association chairman. PHOTO | FILE
Mr Harrison Munyi (centre), the National Farmers Association chairman. PHOTO | FILE 

A task force formed to recommend reforms in the coffee sector has said it cannot be sued and that those aggrieved by its actions should direct their complaints to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The task force, responding to a suit by a section of farmers who want to stop implementation of its recommendations, has asked High Court judge George Odunga to strike it off the suit as it no longer exists.

It reckons that it handed its report to the appointing authority, Mr Kenyatta, and that the farmers should take their grievances to the President.

The New National Farmers’ Association has sued the task force and the Ministry of Agriculture to stop implementation of the task force’s proposals, arguing that issues they raised were ignored when compiling the final report.

Harrison Munyi, lobby group’s chairman, says the task force’s report only favours big players in the industry at the expense of small-scale farmers.

But the task force now says it successfully completed the job President Kenyatta gave it and the President is now the one to account for complaints linked to their assignment.

“The task force ceased to exist upon successfully completing its work and handing over its report to the President.

“The application is fatally defective as the subject matter arises out of a task force appointed by the President and any grievances arising out of the report ought to be directed at the appointing authority,” the task force says.

Some of the issues at the heart of the small-scale farmers’ concerns are coffee theft and pricing.

The New National Farmers Association claims that it had raised concerns over the excess number of middlemen who earn hefty sums at the expense of coffee growers, and wanted heavier fines imposed on individuals and firms caught up in unfair business practice.

Mr Munyi says the lobby group protested the outcome of the task force’s findings, which were later published amid the concerns of excluding issues raised by small scale growers.