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New regulations to streamline coffee farmer cooperatives

By Moses Omusolo | March 22nd 2019

Coffee farmers cooperatives are set to undergo massive reforms to deliver stakeholders better livelihoods, the Government has announced.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, plans are at an advanced stage to have all coffee farmers cooperatives governed in line with the new coffee sector regulations set to be tabled in parliament in two weeks.

The ministry revealed that the issues initially hampering their journey to implementation had all been ironed out.

If come into force, it is expected that many changes will ensure better management of the activities around the crop.

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

Speaking at the sidelines of an event held to provide updates on state of preparations for the upcoming International Coffee Council (ICCO) meeting to be held in Nairobi from Monday, Kenya Coffee Subsector Reforms Committee Chairman Joseph Kieyah said the new sector regulations have farmer’s best interests at heart.

“The new industry regulations are based on the recommendations of the coffee reforms taskforce report. They highlight, among other things, the need to rigorously monitor farmer cooperatives so that the management delivers the better outcomes for farmers, as well as the farmers fund to enable them carry out their activities at much-subsidised cost,” he explained.

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

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.

Underscoring the need for heavy investments in marketing, ICCO Executive Director Jose Dauster Sette said marketing inefficiencies made it difficult for Kenya to convert the good reputation that its coffee had to better returns for all involved in production.

However, he said this is likely to change once the agencies concerned take seriously the implementation of key sector reforms also to be emphasized at length by the upcoming coffee stakeholders’ conference.

“The 124th session of ICCO meeting comes at a time the coffee world faced a crisis, as prices are at their lowest in 12 years, and production is almost half of what it was,” noted Prof Sette.

However, he said all is not lost after all since the five-day event aims at stimulating sector-wide dialogue on issues affecting the coffee industry in the country and the world at large.

“Top on the agenda is the sustainability of the coffee sector, where we, coupled with the issue of today’s low prices, aim to call into question the sustainability of coffee growing practices around the world and find working solutions,” he said.

However, Prof Sette noted that each country needed to tailor the solutions to their own unique challenges while ensuring that maximum benefits trickle down to growers.

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