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Ministry offers to solve coffee marketing row

COUNTIES
By KAMAU MAICHUHIE | February 10th 2014

By KAMAU MAICHUHIE

The Government will soon convene a round table meeting with governors from coffee growing areas to review the marketing of the commodity.

 The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries will host the forum, Principal Secretary Sicily Kariuki said last Friday while addressing stakeholders at Coffee Research Foundation in Ruiru during the official opening of Kenya Coffee @50 Forum.

The meeting comes a month after a standoff involving county governments, marketers and millers, leading to closure of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE).

Ms Kariuki said the National Government was open for discussions with the county governments on how to resolve the standoff over marketing of coffee locally and internationally.

Last year, county governments initiated plans to mill coffee produced within their jurisdiction at central point and equally vowed to market the output as one lot.

Cancelled contracts

 The devolved governments consequently cancelled contracts with the coffee marketers and millers signed with bulk of farmers last year.

Coffee Board of Kenya officials located in counties were barred from issuing permits to coffee societies to deliver their coffee to marketers outside the counties.

 “As a Government, we are determined to ensure the coffee value chain is operated efficiently and all the players benefit. The coffee auction is back to normal and we have even communicated to buyers of Kenya coffee through our embassies and consular agents around the world. We have assured them our produce is available for sale,” she said.

Mr Joesph Malu, chairman of the board of directors, Coffee Research Foundation acknowledged the numerous challenges currently facing the coffee sector in the country.

He said the Government should put coffee farming back to its feet.

 “The coffee sector is today facing serious challenges, key among them being volatile markets, high cost of production, erratic weather, low levels of value addition and continued bulk exports which are threatening the survival of coffee sector,” Kariuki said.

 She said the Government would continue with further reforms and interventions in the industry to enhance the value of the produce.

The PS emphasised the importance of Public Private partnerships, saying it was key to producing better and sustainable results.

 Coffee sector players were challenged to deepen and expand the markets for the commodity. “A narrow market base limits our choices,” she added.


 

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