MP demands coffee auction be suspended

Manyatta MP Gitonga Mukunji. [David Gichuru, Standard]

An MP has asked the government to suspend the sale of coffee at the Mombasa Coffee Auction market.

Manyatta MP Gitonga Mukunji wants the auction suspended for at least two months to give room for the enactment of proper legislation that will protect farmers from exploitation by coffee cartels.

The lawmaker is worried that coffee farmers are likely to incur huge losses by selling their coffee beans through the auction.

Currently, a kilo of coffee beans goes for Sh200 at the Mombasa coffee auction, but in the farms, in Central Kenya, a kilo of coffee beans goes at less than Sh100.

“Coffee farmers had a bumper harvest in the months of November and December, last year. The selling of coffee will start next month when the coffee auction market will be opened. Brokers and cartels have started exploiting our farmers and we want them stopped,” said Mukonji.

 “For the cartels to be stopped, we have to enact into law the Bill that is currently in parliament when sittings resume from February 14. The law will also ensure that they sell their produce at good prices, “he added. 

The MP said the reforms that were brought by the former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary in the coffee sector were punitive to the farmers, claiming that the regulations are the ones that exposed them to exploitation by the coffee cartels.

“Selling coffee through Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has a lot of bureaucracy and only a few farmers benefit. That’s what we want to stop,” said Mukonji.

Recently, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua warned brokers and cartels in the tea and coffee sector.

The DP said the government was focused on ensuring farmers received their fair dues, promising to fight cartels in the industry.