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Farmers seize factory equipment over Sh8m

By Boniface Gikandi | Published Thu, August 3rd 2017 at 09:24, Updated August 3rd 2017 at 09:32 GMT +3

SUMMARY

  • Money is payment for 110,000kg of cherry the growers delivered to the miller.
  • Farmers stormed factory on August 1 taking away crucial equipment.
  • Factory chairman Simon Wanjohi said the dispute erupted after one group split from Rwaikamba

 

Operations at Kanjahi Coffee Factory have stalled after farmers took away equipment over failure to pay them Sh8 million.

The money was payment for 110,000kgs of coffee they delivered to the factory.

They stormed the factory on Tuesday and took away crucial equipment, including weighing machines, after it emerged a rival group was blocking their payment.

The other group is said to have asked the miller not to channel the money through the factory accounts as is usually the case.

The farmers and the factory have been embroiled in a four-month battle for the cash. The rival group is said to have opened a different account through which it sought to have the payment channelled.

The group decided to take away the machines after a meeting called to resolve the dispute failed.

One of the farmers, Charles Mwangi, said the rival group wrote to the factory seeking to have the payment made through a different bank account. He said their money had always been sent through the factory and Rwaikamba Cooperative Society accounts.

Factory chairman Simon Wanjohi said the dispute erupted after one group split from Rwaikamba.

Wanjohi said a team led by five shareholders had written to the miller demanding that the money be withheld until their concerns were addressed. This included allowing about 700 farmers to move away from the larger society. 

“On realising the meeting called to discuss how their payment would be made had failed, some of the farmers stormed the factory and took away equipment,” said Wanjohi.

The farmers also accused the Government of failing to address their concerns. “Most of them said they are facing financial difficulties because of the delayed payment,” Wanjohi said.

Mathioya Deputy County Commissioner Charles Laboso said he was working with the farmers and the factory to resolve the dispute.

“There have been payment issues but meetings have been planned to have the matter resolved,” said Laboso.

Kiawanduma and Ngutu factories broke away from Rwaikamba Cooperative Society. The society has Kanjahi, Kahiriga, Karuyu, Kagumo and Kahete coffee factories.