Team appointed to resolve coffee woes is competent, says PS

The PS told farmers not politicise the task force.

Friday March 11 2016

Industrialisation Ministry Principal Secretary Ali Ismail on March 10, 2016 dismissed claims by the Bingwa Sacco that the task group formed by the president lacks credibility. PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Industrialisation Ministry Principal Secretary Ali Ismail on March 10, 2016 dismissed claims by the Bingwa Sacco that the task group formed by the president lacks credibility. PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GEORGE MUNENE
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The government has denied claims that the task force formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to review the problems facing the coffee sector comprises cartel members responsible for ruining it.

Industrialisation Ministry Principal Secretary Ali Ismail dismissed claims by the Bingwa Sacco, which represents coffee farmers nationally, that the team lacks credibility and would not achieve anything.

"In fact, we have five prominent coffee farmers who are well experienced in the task force. The team is all exclusive and the government is confident it would do a clean job," he said.

Speaking to reporters in Kerugoya, Kirinyaga County, Mr Ismail also rejected allegations that coffee farmers were left out when the task force was being set up.

The 19-member team, which has already started its work, is visiting farmers in all coffee-growing counties and collecting their views.

The PS told farmers not politicise the task force, which is keen to unearth what is ailing the coffee sector.

"Coffee had in the past been the leading foreign exchange earner and the task force must know what has really gone wrong," he said.

The task force was formed when farmers from the Mount Kenya region complained that cartels had infiltrated the market and were exploiting them, threatening to uproot the cash crop if President Kenyatta would not come to their aid.

(Read: Farmers urge Uhuru to solve coffee woes)

They demanded to be paid between Sh150 and Sh200 per kilogramme.

Mr Ismail said the team also wants to understand the issues affecting the cooperative movement.

At the same time, he observed that the sacco, chaired by Cyrus Kabira, is the best-managed cooperative in Kenya.

He said: "This sacco has become the envy of many because it is the largest rural sacco in Kenya, with 3.4 billion [in] assets."

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