By Boniface Gikandi
The farmers are now spoiling for the Coffee Act to be amended so that they can have a say on the management of the sector. After being stripped the mandate of electing members of the board, farmers are now fighting for reinstatement of their rights saying they want to be part and parcel of sector.
Farmers from central Kenya have listed their demands saying they will be forced to withhold their produce if the issues will not be addressed.
They are demanding that the ministry of Agriculture stops nominating directors at CBK saying those in charge act without their mandate.
During a farmers meeting recently, representatives led by Francis Njinjo they said directors at the board are strangers to them and yet they claim to present them.
Leaders from cooperatives in Murang’a and other coffee growing areas in the region called MPs to amend Coffee Act and bestow them the responsibility of electing directors a mandate removed from them in 2009.CBK is regulator of the coffee sector.
According to the Coffee Act, the board comprises three people appointed by the Agriculture minister to represent plantation interests and another three representing co-operative societies and smallholders who are producers of coffee.
This is what is making the farmers angry.The minister is allowed by the law to hand pick people to sit in the board without the farmers say. Insiders in the sector divulged to Business Weekly that some of the directors operate a number of companies that have been registered by CBK as coffee dealers.
Some firms are alleged to be involved in milling and while on other hand their subsidiaries registered in other names participate at Nairobi Coffee Auction, where dealers decide prices of the day.
On private farms, the farmers point out that CBK has failed to ensure that certain requirements are met before allowing owners to install their pulping machines.
Private farms, they suspect, could be behind massive theft of coffee as CBK has failed to carry out proper investigations to stem the vice.