State unveils US$29.73m fund to revamp coffee sector, mulls new regulations

KENYA – The Kenyan government said it will avail US$29.73 million (Ksh 3 billion) cherry advance revolving fund to coffee farmers as part of the government intervention to rejuvenate the coffee sector.

Speaking during the 124th session of the International Coffee Council in Nairobi, Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta also unveiled plans of rehabilitation of 500 pulping factories in 31 coffee growing counties across the country.

“All coffee farmers across the country will access the cherry advance at a modest interest rate of three per cent,” said President Uhuru.

The President said that under a new regulatory framework, the coffee sector would be liberalised to usher in a new era of direct marketing by co-operative societies, reports Business Daily.

Currently, most of the coffee is sold through the auction at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange as most of the cooperative societies do not have access to direct market.

Other interventions include the requirement for all coffee co-operatives to present annual audit reports to the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary within six months of every calendar year, with a simultaneous release to the entire membership of the respective society and the public.

“The inaugural audits under the forthcoming enhanced regulatory framework will cover the calendar year 2019, and shall be submitted by all co-operatives on or before December 31, 2019,” the president noted.

The President said the new interventions were in line with the aspirations of members of co-operative societies and were aimed at having well managed, financially stable and efficient co-operatives.

“To protect the sweat of the brow of coffee farmers, my administration has embarked on a programme to entrench the principles of good corporate governance within the internal management of co-operatives,” he said.

Additionally, Joseph Kieyah, the chairman Kenya Coffee Sub-Sector Reforms Committee, noted that the new reforms will ensure better management of the activities around the crop.

“The new industry regulations are based on the recommendations of the coffee reforms taskforce report and they highlight, among other things, the need to rigorously monitor farmer cooperatives so that the management delivers better outcomes for farmers,” he said.

Kenya is globally reputed for production of fine Arabica coffee that has high flavour and pleasant aroma, but production has plummeted to between 40,000 and 50,000 metric tonnes from a peak of 128,941 metric tonnes harvested about three decades ago.

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