Treasury mulls another Sh1 billion fertiliser kitty to help revive coffee sector

A farmer affiliated to Gachatha Coffee Factory in Nyeri, prepares coffee berries before the start of milling in 2017. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]
Coffee farmers will soon be assured of fertiliser worth Sh1 billion from Treasury as part of the State’s plan to revive the ailing sector.

Treasury says in a new report that it is working on the recommendations by Parliament to ring-fence Sh1 billion from allocation of the fertiliser subsidy for coffee farmers.

“The National Treasury has communicated the resolution of Parliament with regards to ring-fencing Sh1 billion from the allocation of fertiliser subsidy to cater for coffee farmers. This is being considered in the context or revival of coffee sector initiatives in Kenya,” said Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury Henry Rotich in the Budget Summary for the Fiscal Year 2019/20.

In the Financial Year ending June 2019, CS Rotich set aside Sh4.3 billion for subsidised fertiliser, although, by February 10, Treasury had not disbursed the cash.

SEE ALSO :Government mulls Sh3 billion kitty for coffee farmers

There have been complaints that the Government’s cheap fertiliser distributed by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) tends to benefit maize farmers at the expense of growers of other crops.

These sentiments were echoed by the World Bank in a recent review of the Kenyan economy, which found that NPCB’s depots from where fertiliser is distributed, are maize-growing zones of Northern Rift valley and Western Kenya.

The World Bank found that the “subsidy programme led to crowding of private sector retail fertiliser markets in maize growing areas.”

The ailing coffee sector has been a recipient of several debt waivers from the Government in what is aimed at restoring it to its glorious days.  President Uhuru Kenyatta has moved to deal with delays in payment of coffee farmers.

Coffee farmers have been allocated Sh1 billion as part of the Sh3 billion cherry Coffee Revolving fund established in March by President Kenyatta.

SEE ALSO :How they’re taking our coffee for just a song

“All coffee farmers across the country will access the cherry advance at a modest interest rate of three per cent,” said the President when he opened the 124th session of the International Coffee Council at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre recently.

The Head of State also announced that 500 pulping factories in 31 coffee growing counties would be rehabilitated. A Parliamentary committee last year proposed that an audit on all the coffee societies that had received waivers be probed.

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Coffee farmersSh1 billionNational Treasury