Managers of coffee societies in Murang’a hit by thefts will have to step down, the county security team has directed.
The directive comes following suspicions that some of the managers are linked to the theft of the best grade of coffee.
Murang’a East Deputy County Commissioner Okaka Etiang, who issued the directive on behalf of County Commissioner Mohammed Barre, said that upon investigations, they have found that some managers are colluding with the smugglers of coffee who only storm the societies after sorting of the best grades is done.
He was speaking in Murang’a town on Tuesday during a consultative forum between coffee farmers and the coffee taskforce.
Mr Okaka said even after an agreement was reached between the societies and the administration for police officers to be guarding the coffee after sorting of grades awaiting transportation to millers, some rogue and unscrupulous management committees have ignored the directive, leading to the theft of farmers’ produce.
“We reached a deal with all the management committees to seek provision of security after storing the coffee but since there is always a deal between the committee and the unscrupulous millers, they don’t notify the administration so as to pave way for theft of farmers’ hard-earned produce.
“We have therefore directed deputy county commissioners to ensure that in case of theft, the management must step down until the case is heard and determined by the courts,” Mr Okaka said.
He noted that there are three court cases going on over the theft of coffee in Murang’a County.
Two weeks ago, coffee worth Sh6 million was stolen from Gathinja Coffee Factory in Kiharu Constituency.
The thieves stole about 150 bags of coffee at night in what appeared to be a well thought-out plan.
During the consultative meeting, taskforce chairman Geoffrey Wang’ombe told the coffee farmers that the proposed revolving fund will come along with measures to curb theft and exploitation by millers.
“We shall digitise the farmers’ records in a bid to help the government to have a clear master plan on what is needed in the sector. In the new reforms under the New KPCU, farmers will be required to fill in forms showing the number of coffee bushes, their names, age, acreage of the coffee farm, their accounts and the chairperson of the coffee society must sign the forms and put the seal of the society.
“Farmers will receive the revolving fund directly from KPCU and a fee of three per cent will be deducted upon receiving the money,” Mr Wang’ombe told the farmers.
He added that any institution willing to lend money to the farmers will be required to get clearance from the Central Bank of Kenya in order to save farmers from exploitation by millers.
He said the draft reforms propose a fine of Sh5 million or 10 years in jail or both for those who will contravene the law as well as those who will misappropriate the revolving fund.