[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Coffee farmers from Kirinyaga county have been forced to arm their guards with poisonous arrows to protect their produce from theft that has become rampant in the county.

James Nguri a farmer in Kabare village in Kirinyaga East sub-county has been forced to arm his night guards with poisonous arrows for protection.

Nguri said, the thefts are carried out at night and that it will deny the farmers their harvests if not addressed urgently.

"We as farmers have been sent back to the drawing board, we have hired night guards to keep watch on our crop," said Nguri.

Thieves strike at night and harvest the already ripe berries so as to sell them for zero cash.

Zero cash is a means of transaction/payment done locally where the seller gets immediate payment on delivering a good that can be either coffee or tea.

Daniel Kiragu from Muchagara said some farmers have hired guards as a way of scaring thieves.

Virginia Kariithi said some thieves have become so brazen, they make farmers who had been guarding their coffee pluck their own coffee and escort them through the farm before making away with the berries harvested.

Some of the culprits have also targeted the farms during the day while the families are not working.

Ezra Karimi said they left home for a church service last Sunday only to realise that their coffee had been plucked despite leaving some ripe beans.

John Ndambiri said as long as are not ready to sacrifice relatives who are in the menace-it has to stay.

"We are hiding our relatives for the fear of threats to our period, as long as we do not speak out, the menace will continue," said Ndambiri.

The police say they have not received any reports of coffee theft in the area.