Twenty-three coffee farmers’ co-operative societies are being audited by a special team from the national and county cooperative departments.
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The audit, which kicked off yesterday, is one of the steps being undertaken by the government to implement reforms in the coffee sector.
Governor Mutahi Kahiga held a meeting with the committee comprising of State Department officials and county representatives from agriculture and cooperatives departments.
“While Nyeri County would like to improve the quality and quantity of coffee produced by our farmers, poor governance and management remains a challenge in the cooperative movement,” he said.
Mr Kahiga said there was need to instil integrity in co-operatives that are managing farmers’ affairs.
“This audit is going to ensure that we know the leaders managing these cooperatives are capable and honest. Also, we would like to collect data to identify what farmers need in terms of farm inputs and support,” said Kahiga.
The governor noted that Nyeri farmers have 13.8 million trees with only 12 million productive and each coffee tree produces 2kg per season.
“We have the capacity to increase production from 2kg per tree to 10kg per tree per season,” he said.
The cooperative audit committee leader Sam Kuria said the performance audit would include collection of data on status of cooperative societies in the county.
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Kuria, who an official in the State Department for Cooperatives, noted that since cooperatives were devolved to county government, there had been lapse in data collection.
“We shall visit each cooperative and audit their books, looking at their debt status as we understand how those debts were accumulated,” Kuria noted.
He asked farmers to borrow from financial institution and avoid seeking loans from commercial millers and marketers.
Further the audit will look at the society’s assets and whether the farmers benefit from the proceeds of their assets.
Also the audit will focus on compliance with the Cooperative Societies Act.
“If a society has not been audited in the past three years, the co-operative will be deregistered, while we shall also assess whether the cooperative management has adhered to its term in office,” Kuria warned.
He said some management committees had been spending more than 20 per cent of the cooperative’s earnings on their expenses, and this would also be audited.
“We intend to get a clearer picture as to how the societies are being run not just for the benefit of the farmers but also to assist the government in making informed decisions on policy in the sector,” Kuria said.