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Dutch coffee buyer threatens to cancel deal

Crop By Nderitu Gichure | October 21st 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

An overseas buyer who has for the last three years been buying coffee from farmers in Ndaro–ini Factory, Nyeri County, has threatened to pull out of the deal unless the board is dissolved. 

In a letter seen by The Standard, Trabocca BV from the Netherlands has written to the board, informing it of intent to withdraw from the deal, claiming dishonesty and theft.

In a memo, the firm's General Manager Mannos Simons said the company could not proceed to work with the current board led by its chairman Joseph Mukuha, accusing the members of lacking transparency and accountability.

Speaking to The Standard, Mukuha denied all the allegations levelled against the board and urged the firm to substantiate its allegations. 

“Trabocca BV remains committed to farmers, but you must give us a clean and transparent board of management. We cannot proceed to work with the current one,” Simons explained in the letter.

Lucrative deal

In February 2019, the firm bought coffee from the factory, formerly an affiliate of Gikanda co-operative in Mathira at Sh121 per kilo, making it one the most lucrative direct sale to an overseas buyer.

The buyer also pledged to upgrade the factory and provide better equipment and training for the farmers.

Farmers said the deal was a major victory against coffee cartels that have for long denied them good prices.

But in a new twist of event, the company is now accusing the board of exaggerating production last year by an additional 64,000 kilogrammes.

“We by good luck discovered this irregularity before making payment this year occasioning the delay in disbursing the funds to the farmers,” Simons added.

He claimed when they demanded to peruse the actual operations expenditure, the board sent unscrupulous financial documents and instead sent the new quick book accounting system.

“We have also learnt the payout of Sh100 paid to farmers early this year was split into two and paid on different dates in April and June yet Trabocca paid in full as per the contract,” Simon observed.

Payments

He wondered why the board made the payment and what it did with the money.

The firm further claimed the board allowed milling and marketing of coffee other than that from Ndaro–ini which was of low quality and pocketed Sh15 per kg.

“They have also frustrated the work of our agronomist because he would have noticed their corrupt activities,” Simon stated.

The firm, he noted, had further discovered the board had secretly signed a marketing and milling agreement with another company behind its back.

“All this is happening while we have already advanced the board Sh15 for inputs. It is backstabbing and dishonest. We demand full details and an audit,” the firm explained.

Mukuha has called for an Annual General Meeting on November 11, with the alleged misconduct of his board being among issues to be discussed.

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