Thieves have made away with Sh2.6 million coffee berries from Kianderi Coffee Factory in Kahuro subcounty, Murang’a.
New Weithaga Cooperative Society chairman Evans Maina yesterday said the theft occurred on Monday, a few hours before a management committee meeting that was to decide when the coffee would be transported to millers. Police are investigating.
The management could not explain how the break-in took place.
The latest theft will hurt about 720 farmers who sell their produce to the firm. For the second year, they will get no payments. Part of the stolen yield was delivered in April.
The farmers raised concerns that millers competing for their produce have been inciting some of them and they are to blame for coffee hawking.
The police yesterday arrested three security guards. Murang’a county commissioner John Elungata said they will help with investigations. More than 24,000kg coffee was stolen.
Elungata urged the DCI to act swiftly to ensure culprits are prosecuted and the produce recovered.
Maina said the coffee was of high quality and would have fetched the best prices for farmers.
Last year, Kangunu Cooperative Society in Mathioya paid its farmers Sh95 per kilogramme — the highest in the county.
Coffee theft has increased in recent years. This comes at a time farmers and other players are doing all they can to revive the ailing sector after decades of near-collapse.
In 2016, Sh3.5 million coffee was stolen from the same factory.
Just two weeks ago, police officers foiled the theft of Sh3 million coffee from Ndugamano Factory in Kigumo. They impounded a lorry ferrying the coffee in Maragua. The occupants of the truck fled on foot.
Last year, Elungata directed all factories to instal CCTV cameras to help identify thieves. He also urged them to hire youthful security officers who have the energy and spirit to respond swiftly and ward the factories against intruders.
The administrator had accused factory leaders he did not name of colluding with thieves to defraud farmers. He warned that warned that such people would be punished.