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Government to revoke licences of 'cartels' in coffee sector


Agriculture and Livestock CS Mithika Linturi. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

The government will revoke licences of ‘cartels’ who have infiltrated the coffee sector in the country, as it looks to clean up the mess.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi, speaking during the multi-stakeholder Coffee Farmers Summit in Meru on Friday, June 9, warned that no marketers and buyers will be let off the hook if found culpable of exploiting coffee farmers.

“Immediately I am back to the office on Tuesday, we will have a meeting. We will sit down and see how to revoke those licenses. I will deal with it as long as I have the power of the law to do so,” the CS said.

Linturi was responding to claims by Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire during the summit, that there are three companies frustrating and holding back the growth of coffee farmers in Embu and Meru counties.

“I cannot feign ignorance. I am very particular on issues of integrity and those that touch on our people. We cannot allow this to happen,” said Linturi.

Mbarire raised concerns that there are three key companies who have their own milling firms, claiming they are the source of farmers’ problems in the county.

She noted that if the issues raised at the meeting are not solved there and then, then the government is not really committed to addressing the problems facing coffee farmers.

“We know the problem. I want to get to the bottom of it without mincing words,” Mbarire stated.

Our coffee sector is predominantly three companies, who have branched out and have their own coffee milling firms. The same companies transform themselves into marketers, then they move ahead and become buyers,” she claimed.

The Embu Governor further noted that it was high time to put a stop to those companies, failure to which would mark the end of the summit that is aimed at coming up with recommendations to address challenges facing coffee farmers.

“If we don’t deal with those cartels, we will spend two days here circling the same issue. It’s about time we say enough is enough,” said Mbarire.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua also waded into the cartel issue, alluding that marketers had corrupted the coffee cooperative society and its officials.

“During campaigns, their elections are more funded than the presidential election. It’s these marketers who give them money so that they commit them to reserve their coffee then buy at the price they want,” said the DP.

Gachagua added that the government is committed to streamlining the sector and eliminating middlemen and cartels.

“It’s unacceptable that the very people who are marketing are also millers and also roasters. We know they register a company but they are the same people who even sit at the coffee exchange as both marketers, millers, and buyers. That will hurt the farmers.”

 The DP is spearheading the review of coffee policies and the eradication of cartels in the coffee industry.

He is recently quoted saying that reviving the cooperative movement through better reforms is the way to go in revitalising the sector.

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