• Munya describes advantages of KCPU, including subsidised inputs, revolving cherry fund and no middlemen.
• Says membership is strictly voluntary.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has urged Kiambu coffee farmers to join the New Kenya Planters’ Cooperative Union but emphasised that membership is strictly voluntary.
He said the government is trying to revive the coffee sector and KPCU will help.
Governor James Nyoro said 23 coffee cooperative societies in the county have already formed the Kiambu County Coffee Growers Association with 3,500 farmers to revive the sector. The county has distributed 15,000 bags of free fertiliser.
Nyoro said the major problem of coffee farmers is Sh450 million debt to banks and suppliers. Government intervention in rescheduling the debt would help greatly, he said.
CS Munya said, “We are not forcing anybody to join KPCU because we want the market to determine that farmers take their coffee where they want.”
He addressed farmers on Monday at the Kiambu government headquarters.
“We want the new KPCU to work and compete with others. Now farmers have a choice, nobody is forcing them, it’s for farmers to choose,” he said.
The CS said membership includes a cherry advance to the farmers once they sign up with the new KPCU. He said the government has established a Sh3 billion Coffee Cherry Advance Revolving Fund to provide an affordable, sustainable and accessible cherry advance to smallholder farmers.
The fund is intended to help farmers who own 20 acres or fewer.
“The cherry advance fund is under the new KPCU where farmers need to sign and any farmer can borrow at interest of three per cent,” the CS said.
Forms can be filled for farmers to accept that the coffee sold at a certain fee will be deducted, as their coffee is the guarantee.
“Forty per cent will be given to farmers for the coffee they have delivered,” Munya said.
Coffee societies will be entitled to give details of farmers of the coffee they have delivered, which is voluntary, so the cherry advance money can be given directly to the farmer to avoid intermediaries.
“The cherry fund will go directly to farmers' accounts and not societies or any other intermediary where mostly it gets lost or sometimes farmers are told the money was used to pay societies’ debts,” Munya said.
He said the ministry has developed an e-voucher programme to subsidise inputs such as fertiliser.
The e-voucher programme also subsidises inputs for rice and potatoes.
“The government will be paying 40 per cent and the farmer 60 per cent. We will also incorporate agro dealers so farmers can buy inputs using the cherry advance fund directly,” Munya said.
He said prices of fertiliser to be sold by the NCPB and KMTC were negotiated and lowered. DAP, which was being sold for Sh2,800 now is being sold at Sh2,300. CAN was sold at Sh2,250 but now sells for Sh1,800.
Mijingu sold for Sh2,800 but now goes for Sh2,300. Mijingu top dressing fertiliser was Sh3,000 but now is Sh2,300. Mijingu planting fertiliser was sold for Sh3,000 but now sells for Sh,300.
Munya said the government has set aside Sh1.5 to revive coffee factories’ infrastructure and will make its priority factories that serve a lot of farmers.
Governor Nyoro said, “We have huge debts as one cooperative society alone has a debt portfolio of Sh160 million. We do not want to talk about a write-off but if there is one, that will be fine. We know the circumstances and we want the ministry’s help in planning how to reschedule the debt.
“Give us time as the people who are paying that debt to commercial banks and suppliers are the people trying to produce coffee.”
(Edited by V. Graham)