Coffee farmers invited to make proposals on regulation

Prof Joseph Kieyah. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Prof Joseph Kieyah. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The government has now given farmers and other stakeholders a chance to discuss and make suggestions on new coffee regulations proposed to turn around the ailing sub-sector.

This is in compliance with a court order issued in July by the High Court, which declared the regulations unlawful and directed Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bet to ensure they are passed within 30 days of the first sitting of the current Parliament.

In a notice sent to the stakeholders, the Agriculture and Food Authority, which is the industry’s regulator, has invited them to present their views on the draft regulations 2017 at a forum they have organised in Nairobi on Monday.

Growers who were invited through their co-operative societies are expected to personally attend the forum at the AFA headquarters along Naivasha Road although some have already sent their written submissions.

Others expected at the event include marketers and millers as well as owners of coffee estates.

The new regulations had been proposed by members of a task force President Uhuru Kenyatta had appointed last year to see how the coffee industry could be turned around after years of mismanagement.

According to the chairman of the task force, Prof Joseph Kieyah, who is also heading a committee to implement the reforms, the regulations have been adjusted.

“We have only made some few changes,” he told Sunday Nation.

Officials of co-operative societies, which are the marketing agents of smallholder farmers have strongly opposed the regulations. They have been arguing that if implemented they would kill the societies and render growers hopeless since they rely on these co-operatives for loans to buy farm inputs and other necessities like school fees.

One of the new rules the task force had proposed is to have farmers paid directly for their deliveries through Central Depository Unit (CDU).

Through the CDU, every grower shall open an account in which proceeds of his coffee would be directly wired to after his coffee is bought by buyers at the coffee auction.

Presently, money from coffee proceeds goes to the account of the co-operative societies from where expenses are deducted. The expenses include society’s overheads, and a levy charged by millers and marketing agents.

The questions officials of co-operative societies have been asking is how they will be recovering money to run factories and other expenditures.