Farmers’ lobby disowns Uhuru coffee taskforce’s proposals

Mr Harrison Munyi, the National Farmers Federation chairman. PHOTO | FILE
Mr Harrison Munyi, the National Farmers Federation chairman. PHOTO | FILE 

A farmer’s lobby has disowned recommendations of a coffee taskforce appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, saying their views were altered to meet interests of the cartels.

The chairman of the National Farmers Federation (NFA), Harrison Munyi, claims 80 per cent of their views were changed in unfamiliar circumstances and has threatened that they will move to court to annul the report.

In a letter sent to Mr Kenyatta and handed over to his Harambee House office on June 21, Mr Munyi said if the report is adopted the way it is then farmers will be the losers as it does not present their interests.

“The cartel might have joined hands with the taskforce so as to have a report that only favours them and not the farmers. This is what explains the altering of the report,” said Mr Munyi.

This comes hardly a month after the National Task Force on the Coffee Sub - Sector Reforms submitted its report to Mr Kenyatta, listing a number of actions that need to be taken in order to return Kenyan coffee to profitability.

Mr Munyi said that farmers need a long lasting solution in respect to coffee farming failure to which they will abandon the crop The taskforce’s report wants farmers paid an advance of 40 per cent, which is equivalent to Sh15 per kilogramme.

The NFA said the taskforce’s arithmetic is off by Sh105 because the 40 per cent advance pay agreed on with the farmers is equivalent to Sh120.

The taskforce also recommended an overhaul of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE), which will see it transition into a commodities exchange, giving farmers power to present their coffee at the auction.

However, Mr Munyi said farmers want NCE abolished adding that it is controlled by cartels who discuss and fix prices on the floor.

In their letter to the president, the farmers have come up with their own parallel report with a number of recommendations. They want farmers to earn a minimum of Sh350 per kilo, like their Ethiopian counterparts.

They recommend that those caught with stolen coffee or in any way involved in coffee theft should be imprisoned for life and that the government should find ways of buying the commodity directly from farmers.

The implementation of the taskforce report is expected to begin in the next few weeks and some players in the coffee industry feel that it is headed for disaster because it has focused on the farmer only rather than the entire industry.

Some of the recommendations will have to go through Parliament, such as the amendments to the Crops Act of 2013, converting the coffee exchange into a public company and the review of the Cooperatives Act of 2012.

Attempts to reach Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe for comments were unsuccessful.