Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and Deputy President William Ruto have clashed over the proposed ban on export of raw coffee.
Speaking at General Kassam Stadium during Gichugu MP Gichimu Githinji homecoming party on Saturday, the Deputy President asked governors to support the ban to increase farmer’s earnings.
“We want coffee, tea and horticulture to be processed before export. The habit of trading our produce as raw materials must stop. We will create jobs for our youth and increase farmers’ earnings,” Mr Ruto said.
Ms Waiguru, who spoke to journalists shortly after the event, said that the problem facing the coffee sector was marketing.
Governor Waiguru argued that doing away with middlemen was the only solution to the coffee crisis.
SUFFER HUGE LOSSES
“I am not opposed to processing of coffee but there must be market first or else farmers will suffer huge losses since the shelf life of processed coffee is very short,” he said.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria challenged Ms Waiguru to set aside Sh1 billion for the construction of a coffee processing factory instead of opposing his bill.
“We will process our coffee and if they refuse to buy it, we will use it as cattle feed. We must bring to an end exploitation by foreigners,” Mr Kuria said.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said that the national government would support counties in setting up coffee factories.
“As a ministry, we are committed towards ensuring that the coffee harvested by farmers is processed to fetch better prices,” he said.
DP Ruto said the government had set aside Sh1 billion for the purchase of farm inputs for coffee farmers.
Speaking separately in Meru on Saturday, Trade CS Peter Munya said the government intends to establish a commodities exchange to end exploitation of farmers by middlemen.
Commodity markets allow farmers to trade through member firms free of brokers, with prices determined by supply and demand.
He said the commodities exchange will enable buyers from across the world purchase directly from the farmer unlike the current model that relies on an auction.
Mr Munya said the government is in the process of recovering the Kenya Coffee Planters Union’s lost assets.
Earlier on Saturday, Trade PS Chris Kiptoo said the establishment of commodities exchange will require setting of standards for commodities, amendment of capital markets regulations, and the enactment of warehouse receipt bill.