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New KPCU: MPs demand to know directors of new planters' union

New KPCU offices along Haille Selassie Avenue in Nairobi, Kenya on May 10, 2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Lawmakers at a parliamentary caucus retreat on coffee, held in Machakos County, Tuesday demanded to know the directors of the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU).

The MPs, drawn from coffee growing areas, also queried the involvement of former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani and his Agriculture counterpart Peter Munya in the picking of the company's trustees.

Led by Githunguri MP Gathoni Wamuchomba, the legislators urged Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui to intervene in the affairs of the new KPCU to ensure coffee farmers, who own shares in the union do not lose their assets.

"We are concerned that the liquidation process of KPCU was not done in a procedural manner because farmers who own it were never involved in the process nor was it made public. We are surprised that some of the people who are said to be trustees of the new KPCU are former Cabinet Secretaries," said Wamuchomba.

She went on, "We have agreed as a caucus that we will take centre stage in the National Assembly and initiate the process of correcting those anomalies because the right procedure was never followed."

The MPs also vowed to work on a legislative framework to ensure coffee farmers get a Minimum Returns Guarantee on the crop, which they noted had declined in production volumes over the years.

"We are making a commitment to the CS and the administration of President William Ruto that we are ready to offer our support and anything else we need to do in order for our coffee farmers to gain maximum benefits from their crop," she said.

Chelugui said his ministry will stop at nothing to streamline the operations of cooperatives, which he noted had numerous gaps.

"We will focus our energies on streamlining of the cooperatives management by strengthening the capacities of national and county functions in promoting sound management," said the CS.

Chelugui also pledged to fast-track the disbursement of the coffee cherry fund which he acknowledged was never fully disbursed to farmers.

A former board member of the new KPCU however said the MPs' concerns are misplaced.

"During the reform process a transitory company was formed as KPCU house was put in order. In that company, as is the norm in parastatals, the Treasury CS had to be the main shareholder, and Agriculture CS a director. That's how accusations against Munya came about," said the board member.