Coffee farmers praise ongoing sector reforms

Joseph Kieya, chairman of the coffee subsector implementation committee, at the international coffee festival in Nairobi yesterday. [George Njunge, Standard]

Coffee farmers have praised reforms instituted by the sector implementation committee that was formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The task force appointed in March 2016 was formed to review the entire coffee chain and identify areas that require interventions such as production, processing and marketing.

And yesterday, coffee farmers from Murang'a, Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Meru and Kirinyaga hailed the gains brought by the reforms.

They spoke yesterday during the 1st Kenyan international coffee festival in Nairobi aimed at giving farmers a chance to air their grievances as well as review the gains of the legal reforms instituted by the committee.

The chairman of the implementation committee Joseph Kieya noted that it was painful that the farmers, who grow one of the best coffee in the world, cannot afford it.

“We want the Kenyan farmer not to just wear gumboots in the farm; we want the farmer to also enjoy the coffee that they toil to produce. This will be achieved by having the farmer enjoy good proceedings of their coffee,” said Mr Kieya.

He urged farmers to take advantage of Kenya's favourable geographical conditions that make the country produce high quality coffee.

“We want farmers to control their produce. We want the many brokers and licenses to trade and produce coffee thrown away to bring the farmers closer to the negotiation table.”

Susan Mugure from Digital Tolls for Agriculture said coffee is not an elites drink that cannot be afforded by farmers who grow it.

“We want to know why Ethiopia's farmers drink their coffee more than we drink ours. We want the farmer to have good returns that will enable them buy coffee and forget the traditional misery of producing coffee,” she said.

Peter Njogu from Gatanga, Murang'a, said many had given up on coffee farming as it was not paying.

“We would hardly afford good life, education for our children and general upkeep even as we owned acres of coffee plantation with thousands of trees. We appreciate the reforms that have seen us enjoy our work because of good returns,” he said.