Governor tells Parliamentarians to go slow on proposed Coffee Bill

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru during an interview at her residence in Kitusuru, Nairobi on Thursday 24/08/17. She narrated her intentions and plans for Kirinyaga County. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Governor Anne Waiguru has warned against adding value to coffee without considering needs of consumers in foreign markets.

She warned MPs against passing a Bill by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, which will require Kenyan producers to mill coffee before exporting. 

"We may end up losing it all if our value added coffee does not meet international standards. We must consider the dynamics of international markets before implementing such stringent measures," she said on arrival from a two-week tour of Europe.

Waiguru spoke at Kiamutugu in Kirinyaga East after opening a Sh10 million market. She said consumers could shift to coffee from Brazil, Costa Rica or Ethiopia, where market forces determined prices.

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Mr Kuria's Bill also seeks to have Kenyan coffee branded in the country before export.

Further processing

Efforts to add value to coffee are motivated by the fact that much of the profits are derived from value added products as opposed to the selling of coffee beans for further processing.

The coffee sector is dominated by the private sector and not the farmers, thus benefiting the former more.

Waiguru said such a strategy was likely to backfire since it did not address the taste of the consumers.

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“Both the interest of the international buyers and consumers must be put into account before anything else, bearing in mind that consumers have different tastes," said Waiguru.

She said she had struck a deal with some European countries, which had given specific conditions to coffee farmers before they can buy the produce directly from the county.

A lot of focus has been put on agriculture, as it contributes 24 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product, and provides about 70 per cent of employment.

The coffee and tea sectors provide 45 per cent of employment in agriculture.

Meanwhile, Governor Anne Waiguru has ordered the demolition of a building constructed on a plot meant for a slaughterhouse. She directed the lands executive, Murimi Kanjobe, to ensure that the abattoir was built on the site.

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"This should serve as a warning to grabbers of public land. I have set aside Sh5 million, from our emergency fund, for the construction of a modern slaughterhouse at the site once the building is brought down," said Ms Waiguru.

The governor, who was accompanied by her deputy, Peter Ndambiri, said she was concerned by the grabbing of public land in the county. She said she was determined to reclaim all illegally acquired public land.

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