Coffee sector to undergo reforms

Caroline Kajuu and Florence Nkatha, 32 and 29 years respectively, at their coffee farm in Thuura, Meru. [File, Standard]
Coffee farmers cooperatives are set for significant reforms to promote better livelihoods, the Government has announced.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, plans are at an advanced stage to have all cooperatives governed according to the new coffee sector regulations set to be tabled in Parliament for debate in two weeks.

This is after the ministry revealed that the issues initially hampering the implementation of the rules had all been ironed out.

And if they come into force, it is expected that many changes will occur to ensure better management of the activities around the crop that has previously been known to guarantee many farmers in the country a better future.

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The announcement comes as coffee farmers across the board have been abandoning the crop following the drastic fall in returns over the years.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event held to provide updates on the International Coffee Organisation meeting to be held in Nairobi from tomorrow, Kenya Coffee Sub-Sector Reforms Committee Chairman Joseph Kieyah said the regulations have farmers' best interests at heart and should thus be fully embraced once they come up for scrutiny in Parliament.

“The new industry regulations are based on the recommendations of the coffee reforms taskforce report and they highlight, among other things, the need to rigorously monitor farmer cooperatives so that the management delivers better outcomes for farmers,” he said.

Plans are also in the pipeline to establish a farmers’ fund to enable them carry out their activities at subsidised costs.

Prof Kieyah said the regulations aim to modernise the national coffee trading platform, even as small scale farmers will be required to be aggregated before being registered to enable them churn out sufficient volumes for export.

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International coffee trading will also be conducted on the upcoming national commodity exchange platform.

“The regulations will also require farmers to focus on value addition, even as they are being supported to access the market,” he added.

International Coffee Council executive director Jose Dauster Sette said marketing inefficiencies made it difficult for Kenya to convert the good reputation that its coffee had, to improve returns.

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Coffee farmersGovernmentInternational Coffee Council