Sh100 million Coffee Development Fund proposed

Ripe coffee cherries at the farm of retired agriculture teacher Joseph Barsulai in Turesia, Elgeyo Marakwet County on ‎January ‎25, ‎2022. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

The Nyeri County Assembly has introduced the Coffee Bill 2021 which seeks the establishment of a Coffee Development Fund.

It is expected to help farmers boost production. The Bill will further address the low production and provision of farm input on credit.

It proposes to set aside Sh100 million to be given to farmers at reasonable rates with the security being the product delivered to the factory.

County Agriculture Committee Chairman Antony Ndagita said the money will be anchored on the Enterprise Development Fund.

Our farmers will access cheap loans and credit to boost production which has been declining over the years,” said Ndagita who is also the Kirimukunyu MCA.

The CDF is likely to be similar to the Coffee Cherry Advance Revolving Fund administered by the state through the New Kenya Planters Co-operative Union.

The Bill calls for measures to be taken to control price volatility.

High prices have hurt farmers’ businesses, where they say they cannot predict whether the price will cover the cost incurred.

The MCA said bills that touch on coffee are discussed at the national level, leaving counties to look for alternative solutions. 

“The destabilisation in the coffee industry has led to a sharp drop of production from 129,000 tonnes in 1987/88 to below 50,000,” he explained.

Ndagita said the assembly seeks to create guidelines that will address the plight of farmers who have no control of their product once it is delivered to factories.

Under the proposed Bill, it shall be illegal for coffee millers and marketing agents to lend to farmers at an interest above the prescribed rates.

In addition, coffee growers’ assets held in trust by coffee factories and societies such as land, machinery, equipment, coffee cherry, and parchment shall not be used as collateral for loans.

In order to enhance the economies of scale, the bill further wants all the commodities to be marketed as Nyeri coffee in a pool.

This will ensure volume, quality grade and sustainable supply are addressed and assured to the buyers and roasters.

Gikanda Co-operative Society Chairman John Ngure said the fund will help farmers who have suffered for a long time.