More coffee estate owners in Meru have committed to deliver the produce to the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) mill.
More 30 large coffee estate owners under the umbrella of Imenya Cooperative Society have already delivered 180,000 kilogrammes to the mill at Meru town.
It’s operations manager, Anthony Ndung’u, said more coffee is expected.
“We are expecting at least seven societies who have booked to deliver their coffee to our mill this week,” he said.
Festus Kathendu, the chairman of Imenya Cooperative whose farmers are drawn from Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties, said the society would support the mill to be fully operational.
“Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has promised us that the mill will be run transparently, and that farmers will have a say at all levels. We have started delivering our cherry there and will continue to do so,” said Mr Kathendu.
New KPCU took over the mill from the Meru County Coffee Union recently and is now banking on small and large estate farmers in Meru and Tharaka Nithi to boost volumes.
Charles Mutwiri, a large scale farmer attached to Mkarimu Coffee Estate, said one of agreements with New KPCU was that farmers will have a say on who buys their coffee.
He said allowing farmers to sell to the highest bidder will guard against exploitation.
Another estate farmer, Ayub Bundi, said the new mill was more promising than private millers.
“The New KPCU officers have said they are committed to changing the fortunes of coffee farmers. As a committed estate farmer I have started delivering my harvest to the mill, because we support what CS Munya is planning for farmers,” he said.
He said medium and large scale farmers want the milling and sale of their coffee to be transparent to earn trust of farmers who had been disillusioned by the low prices.
“That is the way to go. The factory will not sell farmers’ coffee to any buyer without actually involving them,” said Bundi. In the past, coffee societies searched for markets for the produce and bargained for prices on behalf of farmers.
Alfred Nyaga, a mill official, said farmers were free to look for buyers of their coffee at the facility’s stores.
Julius Kimathi, a senior technical advisor at the Agriculture ministry, said farmers would be assisted with inputs and cash advances to improve productivity.
Kimathi said farmers in all coffee growing counties will benefit from the Sh1.5 billion cherry fund.