Embu, Machakos Governors decry coffee cartels

Machakos county deputy Governor Francis Mwangangi speaking during a coffee conference in Meru. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire and Machakos Deputy Governer Francis Mwangangi were categorical that cartels were the main source of coffee farmers travails.

Governor Mbarire who was loudly applauded sensationally named three companies she claimed were marketers also buyers and other roles in the sector.

Mbarire said the three entities were dominating the sector.

"I feel we know the problem and we know we want to get. Being a child of coffee and educated with coffee I want to get to the bottom of it without mincing words," she said.

"Our coffee sector is predominantly three companies and I will mention them (she did). They mill in the following companies (again she named the companies). The same (three) companies transform themselves into markets," Mabarire said.

She said the companies also transform themselves into buyers (here again she named them).

Mbarire said they had to deal with the companies for the sake of farmers.

"Now if we don't deal with those cartels, for those are the cartels we are talking about, we will be wasting two days here pretending, going round and we are not mentioning them".

She said she had to name the cartels blamed for fleecing farmers.

"Let me mention them and let's see what happens to me today

 It's about time we face those people in the face and tell them enough is enough".

Mr Mwangangi said coffee was an important commodity but many had abandoned it for other crops, due to their troubles with cartels.

"Cartels are the Maine culprits. We want to see how to increase production and put money in farmers pockets by removing all cartels," he said.

Mwangangi said they would come up with proposals to strengthen partnerships between county and national governments and other partners to increase amounts.

Governor Benjamin Cheboi said his county had sold coffee directly to South Korea and fetched more than Sh600, pointing to the benefits of doing away with brokers.

"It is critical we process this coffee at source," he said, calling for training of cooperative managers.

He said the cartels were Cooperatives managers in the counties, for them to get hold of the coffee and mill it outside the counties.

"They are the millers, marketers, processors and financiers," he said.