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REVAMPING AGRICULTURE

Three Murang'a coffee factories to sell produce to new KPCU

Farmer Kamau wa Beth said the coffee sector has been crowded by middlemen who only serve to reduce farmers’ payments.

In Summary

• Mathareini, Nguku and Kariaini factories were members of Thangaini Coffee Co-operative Society.

• Farmers affiliated to the three factories said they have suffered from meager prices for many years and expressed optimism the new KPCU will offer better prices.

New KPCU board chairman Henry Kinyua at Mathare-ini coffee factory on Friday.
New KPCU board chairman Henry Kinyua at Mathare-ini coffee factory on Friday.
Image: Alice Waithera

Three coffee factories from Kigumo subcounty, Murang’a county, have agreed to start selling their coffee to the newly restructured KPCU.

President Uhuru Kenyatta reconstituted KPCU’s board late last year.

Mathareini, Nguku and Kariaini factories were members of Thangaini Coffee Co-operative Society.

Farmers affiliated to the three factories said they have suffered from meager prices for many years and expressed optimism the new KPCU will offer better prices.

They said a huge part of their payments is consumed by co-operative societies, leaving farmers with payments that cannot support them.

Farmer Kamau wa Beth said the coffee sector has been crowded by middlemen who only serve to reduce farmers’ payments.

“This is why we are entrusting our coffee to the government and we believe our plight will change for the better,” he said.

Last year, he said, he received Sh20 per kilo, which he said was too little to cover his expenses.

He said the government is capable of sourcing for better prices as it is not in the business of making profits, unlike the millers they have been selling to.

Kamau challenged the new KPCU leadership to ensure they operate with integrity to safeguard farmers’ interests and improve their living standards.

He called for the arrest and prosecution of those who ran KPCU down to discourage others from making similar mistakes.

“With the renewed fight against graft by the government, we would also want to see those responsible for KPCU’s collapse behind bars,” he said.

Kamau, however, warned that farmers will withdraw from KPCU if it is unable to sustainably offer good prices.

“Let KPCU come up with a system that will allow farmers to get 80 per cent of their payments, as 20 percent goes running factory committees,” he added.

KPCU, which previously milled farmers’ coffee, is a wholly farmer-owned company with a membership of about 750,000 small-scale farmers represented through over 300 cooperatives and 2,000 large-scale farmers.

New board’s chairperson Henry Kinyua, who visited the factories to address farmers on Friday, said KPCU has opened its doors to farmers.

“Any farmer who wants to sell their coffee to us can walk in anytime and get a milling agreement,” he said.

He said the board is going round the 32 coffee growing counties creating awareness about the new KPCU and how farmers can work with it.

Kinyua said the new KPCU will treat farmers as partners and will include in all the processes involved from milling to sale of their coffee.

He said the board’s intention is to ensure farmers get the best price possible and that it would issue a fixed price.

Kinyua also noted that the Coffee Cherry Advance Fund Regulations may go through Parliament in a few weeks after which farmers will be able to access it.

The chairman said farmers will be able to access the loans with ease and the money deposited in their individual accounts.

Farmers will receive an advance of Sh20 against every kilo of coffee delivered.