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January 20, 2019

Agriculture ministry to adopt tracking system to stop coffee theft — CS Bett

A woman picks coffee berries at the Paradise Lost coffee farm in Kiambu. Photo/FILE
A woman picks coffee berries at the Paradise Lost coffee farm in Kiambu. Photo/FILE

The Agriculture ministry will introduce a tracing system to stop coffee theft.  CS Willy Bett yesterday said coffee millers are to blame for the rampant coffee theft in parts of Nyeri, Kisii, Bungoma and Murang’a counties.

He said farmers have in the past one year lost 465 bags of clean coffee worth about Sh10 million.

“The government will withdraw licences of millers and marketers implicated in coffee theft. There is no way these coffee value-chain players can exonerate themselves from blame. Stolen beans from cooperative societies end up with them before export,” Bett said.

Industry players, who sought anonymity, confirmed that coffee is stolen by cartels of prominent personalities, security officials and unscrupulous traders, with the help of coffee cooperative officials.

Bett said, “Unethical trade behaviour is contributing to the grinding poverty farmers are reeling from. The theft is a well-coordinated game.”

He added that the new initiative will be borrowed from the horticulture industry so that once a miller receives coffee from farmers he/she is able to account by confirming its identity.

“I call upon farmers to insure their coffee with local insurance companies. We will be working together with all arms of the government including the police, Kenya Revenue Authority, County Governments, Judiciary and other players in the industry to discuss the matter deeply,” he said. 

Last year, the High Court suspended the coffee General Regulation 2016 following a suit filed the by the Council of Governors. Another farmers group from Nyeri County and an individual also moved to court to challenge the same.

The minister further stated that the government is reaching out to Council of Governors and two other groups of farmers that sought legal redress against gazettment of the Crops Act 2013.

“I am appealing to the various aggrieved stakeholders to agree to a meeting within the next 14 days with a view to reaching out to an outside court settlement. This will fasten the gazzetment of the regulations,” said Bett.

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