The Council of Governors (CoG) has claimed coffee exporters were funding MPs from coffee growing areas to politically ‘finish’ anyone championing the rights of the coffee farmers.
In a bare-knuckled assault, the CoG’s Committee on Agriculture chairman Mr Nderitu Gachagua said the MPs had infiltrated county assemblies where they coerced ward representatives to defeat motions mooted by county governments to introduce laws that protect coffee farmers and also allow them to directly market their coffee locally and abroad.
Mr Gachagua, who is also the Nyeri Governor said direct sales of coffee cherry had seen farmers’ earnings increase from a paltry Sh10 a kilo to Sh85 but the gains were short-lived as MPs ganged up with MCAs to stop necessary legislation licensing direct sales of coffee at Nairobi Coffee Auction and export sales.
Sayings the MPs were now fighting governors pushing for coffee reforms, Mr Gachagua added that the Coffee Directorate had also been infiltrated by the cartels that saw it exhibit stiff resistance to a request from Nyeri County seeking licences for allowing farmers to directly market their coffee.
Similar sentiments were also put forward before President Uhuru Kenyatta-appointed Task Force on Coffee Reforms where farmers in Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Embu demanded that all cartels be smashed and that co-operative societies be allowed to directly market their coffee.
The farmers mainly drawn from smallholder communities bitterly lamented the low prices for coffee Sherry saying a Sh 150 price per kilogramme would help them break even and meet all their costs while enabling them to prepare effectively for the next crop.
The farmers lamented the high costs of inputs among them pesticides and labour made coffee farming a costly affair.
But the problem is further aggravated by continued exportation of raw coffee beans for value addition in established markets despite every stakeholders assertion that local value addition ventures could earn Kenya handsome returns.
The Coffee Directorate has asserted that value addition could also spur emergence of new careers in coffee making and tasting, which are highly established with accomplished baristas earning a huge following from coffee lovers.