A section of coffee farmers from various factories in Gatundu North, Kiambu County now say that the government’s Sh3 billion cherry advance levy fund will not stop the sector from crumpling if mismanagement of factories and co-operatives is not addressed as a priority.
The farmers from Magumu, Kairi and Gatukuyu coffee factories insisted that dissolution of all factory and co-operative managements to pave way for new leadership is the only way to end their longstanding woes.
Speaking during a cherry fund sensitization meeting organized by New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU), the farmers regretted that cartels in the factories and cooperatives have milked them dry leaving their businesses for the dead.
Led by Martin Ndung’u Wainaina, the apprehensive farmers said that over the years, they have remained as farmers just by name but in reality, they stopped cultivating the crop as the business was no longer bearable.
To revitalize the sector, the farmers rooted for fresh election of coffee managers from the factory level up.
While lauding the government for the proposed coffee regulations aimed at scuttling cartels and unscrupulous players in the tea sector, the farmers maintained that the efforts should be accompanied with disbandment of all coffee managements to allow for transparency.
While stating that the fund will force them to get tangled with the government-backed miller, hence monopolizing it and stifling competition, the uneasy farmers also told the government to allow them to mill and market their coffee on their own for maximum profits.
Gatundu North MP Wanjiku Kibe blamed failure by the fund to lure as many small-scale farmers from the area to the information gap.
Kibe said that while the fund will help invigorate the collapsed sector, creation of direct sales channels and good leadership at the societies level will further support farmers reap substantial profits from their produce.
The MP urged leaders and at the co-operative level to stand up and ensure accountability and transparency is adhered to ensure farmers reap maximum benefits from their hard work.
The government set up the revolving fund to give farmers cheap loans as they wait for their earnings from coffee marketers.
Farmers will get to borrow as much as they earn annually.