By Boniface Gikandi Murang’a County
Increased coffee theft and lack of strategies to end the vice has impacted negatively on farmers and has forced foreign transporters to use the Tanzanian route for safety.
It has emerged that coffee transporters contracted by Ugandan and Rwandese companies are diverting from Kenyan highways to Tanzanian routes due to increased coffee theft.
Kenya Coffee Traders Association Executive Secretary Isaac Muchomba said transporters are using the alternative route to access the international market through Dar es Salaam Port.
The transporters considered the new route following fears of losing their coffee while on transit. “They are now using Tanzania as an alternative channel to ensure the produce reaches the international market,” said Muchomba.
Muchomba appealed to the Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK) through the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure return of sanity for Kenya to remain a passage for export coffee from Uganda and Rwanda.
Speaking to The Standard on phone, Muchomba called on the Government to beef up security to end the vice.
Previously, transporters used Kenyan highways and Mombasa Port for their coffee business.
The shifting of routes comes at a time when coffee farmers have raised concerns over the safety of their produce. Coffee picking season resumed in May this year, a time when break-ins in coffee factories increased.
Factories in Murang’a, Kiambu, Nyeri and Kirinyaga counties have been affected by the thefts, which have left one guard dead.
Last year, nearly half of coffee factories in Murang’a County fell victim of the coffee theft wave.
CBK has also been on the receiving end from growers who accuse it of lacking mechanisms to address the issue.