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Commodities

Murang'a coffee farmers pay falls to Sh27

COFFEE FARMER
No farmer was supposed to receive less than Sh100 even with overheads’ deductions at the factory level. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Murang’a farmers have received an average of Sh27 a kilo for the 2017/18 cherry deliveries, the lowest rate since 2013/14 season.

The newly released rates by the Coffee Development Department show the farmers first received an advance pay of Sh10 per kilo in August before getting Sh17 as the final pay starting December.

This has set off complaints with some vowing to venture into alternative agribusiness.

Simon Njoroge, who chairs lower Kigumo Coffee Growers Association, has demanded a value-chain audit to ascertain why the rate differed sharply with the prices at coffee auctions.

“It is our understanding that the rates at the auction never went below Sh189 … farmers should not receive less than 80 percent of gross market sales. No farmer was supposed to receive less than Sh100 even with overheads’ deductions at the factory level. This is a tragedy,” he said.

But area coffee development officer, Paul Mutua said production suffered due to erratic weather, coffee diseases and reduced volumes.

“Coffee earns exclusively on market quality. The prices at the auctions are no lead on how factories will earn. It is about the volumes you produce as a region and its quality,” he said.

He said in 2013/2014, gross payout to farmers per kilo was Sh42, which improved to Sh55 in 2014/2015. While in 2015/16 deliveries, the average price was Sh45.

Already, Governor Mwangi wa Iria is disputing the calculation of current end payments to farmers and has promised to look into the issue and come up with remedial measures.

In his New Year message, Mr wa Iria accused majority of area co-operative societies of embracing poor managerial practices to the disadvantage of farmers.

He said he will be cracking the whip on all errant managements.

He cited coffee, dairy, horticulture and tea co-operative societies as the most affected “hence becoming slave drivers for our farmers”.

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