Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. [PSC]

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s allies  are reading mischief in the failure to allocate money to waive coffee farmers’ debt.

Contrary to farmers’ expectations, the money for the coffee sub-sector reforms has not been factored in the next financial year’s budget estimates, they claimed.

Failure to allocate the money in the 2024/2025 budget estimates has triggered speculations that the sub-sector is being set to fail so that the second in command, under whose docket it falls, can carry the blame.

The fears by the leaders supporting Gachagua have been compounded by the fact that Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro is the chairperson of the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee and a rival of the DP.

Gachagua was tasked by the Head of State to oversee coffee sector reforms spearheaded by the Coffee Sub-Sector Reforms Implementation Standing Committee via Executive Order 1 of 2023 on January 9, last year.

The MPs led by James Gakuya (Embakasi North), Geoffrey Wandeto (Tetu) and Geoffrey Ruuku (Mbeere North) and Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga read mischief in the absence of the allocation in the budget estimates.

“There is a proposal to waive Sh117 billion sugarcane millers debt but that has not been the case in our area,” Wandeto said.

Gakuya wondered: “It seems some regions are being favoured while our region is being sidelined and we would like to know whether it is a scheme to make the DP and our Mt Kenya region leader to look bad.”

But Cabinet Secretary for Cooperatives Simon Chelugui clarified to The Saturday Standard the reasons why the coffee budgetary allocation was missing and cautioned leaders against playing politics with the matter.

 “I have explained to the leaders in their forums that because of the expected waiver of Sh6 billion meant to settle the outstanding coffee cooperative societies debts and the extra Sh1.4 billion to settle debts for the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) liquidation, which must be approved by the Cabinet, that is why it was not factored in the budget estimates,” he explained.

He said he has received signatures from all the signatories from the required State offices saying that once approved, the allocation will be factored in the supplementary budget.

“In the next Cabinet meeting, we will approve a write-off of Sh6 billion to our farmers so that we can reduce the debts in the sub sector,” he said.

Governor Kahiga said when he realized that the coffee sub sector had zero allocation, he personally inquired from the President saying he explained to him that there was no cause for alarm.

Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba said while the government promised to pay farmers Sh80 per kilogramme of coffee cherry, the promise was yet to be actualised subjecting farmers to untold suffering.

“My coffee farmers from Githunguri are struggling to pay school fees because since last year, they have not received any payments. The Government should explain why they are yet to receive money despite introducing the Direct Sale System,” the MP said.

Other proposed allocation to revitalize the coffee sub sector reforms that are subject to Cabinet approval include Sh600 million for phase 1 of refurbishment of the New KPCU milling and warehousing facilities, Sh560 million for the construction of Eco-pulpers in the emerging coffee growing areas and Sh428 million for the scale up of production and multiplication of coffee planting materials by cooperative unions.