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January 17, 2019

State audits 23 Nyeri coffee societies as production falls

Nyeri governor Mutahi Kahiga, Agriculture CEC Henry Kinyua and Samuel Kamura from the State Department of Cooperatives
Nyeri governor Mutahi Kahiga, Agriculture CEC Henry Kinyua and Samuel Kamura from the State Department of Cooperatives

All the 23 coffee cooperative societies in Nyeri are being audited as most are on the verge of collapse.

The six-day exercise, which began on Wednesday, is carried out by a joint team of county and national government cooperative officials.

The societies are grappling with poor quality coffee and falling deliveries by farmers.

Nyeri CEC for Cooperatives Diana Kendi said the audit will give information on the number of coffee bushes against the production, and age of farmers and of the trees.

They will also compile information on sales, rates, employment and membership of the societies.

"Other details include management structure, factory expenses, equipment and financial position of the societies," she said.

Kendi said the information will assist the county and national governments develop a strategy to improve the coffee sub-sector.

The exercise comes after the selection of Nyeri as a pilot county for coffee farming revival.

This followed a meeting at State House between President Uhuru Kenyatta and elected leaders led by Governor Mutahi Kahiga.

On Wednesday, Kahiga thanked the President for selecting Nyeri for the project.

He decried the fall in the quality and quantity of coffee.

“Currently, as you know, Nyeri is known for its coffee quality. A few years ago, it was known for both its quality and quantity and it’s unfortunate that we have lost both.”

He was optimistic that the audit will reveal why the county is performing dismally.

The governor blamed the fall in production on ageing farmers, population growth leading to subdivision of land to uneconomical portions and bad governance in the cooperative movement.

Other reasons include farmers abandoning coffee farms, where about 1.8 million coffee bushes have been neglected.

Nyeri has 13.8 million coffee trees but only 12 million are in production.

“If we can get the 12 million trees each that are now producing two kilos per tree per season to produce just ten kilos, then we will be on track,” said the governor.

He asked farmers not to uproot their coffee.

“Any farmer who has deserted the coffee farm must be asked to go back there,” he said.

Samuel Kamura from the State Department of Cooperatives, who is leading the team, said they will conduct performance audit as well as collect data to inform policy.

Coffee societies will be key in doing value addition as part of the implementation of the Big Four Agenda, he said. “One of the issues within the Big Four is mapping of all the coffee societies in Kenya,” he said.

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