By George Munene
Speaking on Monday at the National Coffee Revitalization Progress Report, Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya said farmers will now have discretion in the processing, trading, and selling of coffee beans with the passage of the Coffee Bill 2021
At the meeting held in Nairobi, Munya identified marketing agents, doubling as coffee buyers, as some of the main culprits who contribute to poor returns gotten by coffee cultivators. Per the bill, this practice, he said, will be made illegal curbing farmer exploitation as it prohibits factory management from using farmers’ assets as collateral when taking loans.
According to the report, in the year 2019-2020, Kenya exported 46,333 metric tons of green coffee beans, earning it Sh22 billion.
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While Kenya’s coffee fetched some of the best prices internationally, the payment gotten for the cherry for farmers continues to decline. This is partly responsible for the 30 per cent decline in coffee cultivated area, from 170,000 hectares in the early 1990s to 119,000 hectares in 2020. From a production peak of 129,000 metric tons in 1983-84, the crop’s output has seen a 70 per cent decline to just 40,000 metric tons in 2020.
The proposed Coffee Bill 2020 further outlaws millers and marketing agents from lending to farmers. This will now be the charge of the Sh3 billion Cherry Advance Revolving Fund which was approved by Kenya’s Cabinet and will offer coffee farmers loans at a more affordable 3 percent interest. Coffee society deductions from the proceeds of sales will also be capped at 5 per cent.
“We intend to reform the sub-sector by improving efficiency, performance and profitability to farmers and increasing international sales of products,” Munya said
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At the meeting, David Njogu, Coordinator of The Coffee Revitalization Project, stated that recruitment of a service provider who will engage youth trained in agriculture to offer extension services to farmers is underway. “This will help disseminate technologies which are essential for modern coffee production to our farmers,” he said.