The governor who was addressing a meeting between Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and representatives of 15 Coffee Cooperative Societies in Kirinyaga County, on June 5 stated that coffee farmers in the region have for a long time suffered in the hands of middlemen who buy coffee from them without any guaranteed price.
Waiguru championed the implementation of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directives on coffee sector reforms which will see farmers benefit from the Ksh3 billion Cherry Advance Revolving Fund.
The County Government of Kirinyaga will partner with the national government in actualising the directive, with benefits extended to farmers directly.
The governor, who has been at the forefront in facilitating negotiation forums between Kirinyaga coffee farmers and potential buyers noted that having a direct market for coffee would save them from exploitation by middlemen. They would also be able to negotiate for a guaranteed price for their crop.
“We are looking forward to speedy implementation of the president’s directives on coffee sector recovery and the operationalization of Cherry Advance Revolving Fund,” she spoke.
The funds will cushion farmers through access to financing to enable them meet their daily flow requirements by giving them advance pay for their delivered cherry. Currently, farmers are forced to wait for months after delivering their cherry.
The governor cited some of the challenges faced by coffee farmers in the region. Some of them include lack of direct markets for coffee, delay in payment to farmers, unfair compensation by buyers and lack of access to affordable farm inputs such as fertilizers and chemicals.
She also pushed for a stabilization fund to cushion farmers against fluctuating cherry prices caused by prevailing international market rates and cartels.
Governor Waiguru emphasized the need for research and technology in coffee production as well as enhancing the efficiency of coffee farmers’ cooperatives.
Waiguru assured farmers that the county government is committed to supporting the value addition of coffee such as roasting to provide for direct sale to residents.
The average production of coffee in Kirinyaga County is 30,000 tonnes with 2018/2019 registering 34,729 tonnes. Governor Waiguru stated that addressing farmers’ challenges would result in more than 50,000 tonnes.
Kirinyaga coffee is mainly produced by small scale farmers with the county having some of the most favorable climatic conditions for coffee production in the world.