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Nyeri farmers welcome changes proposed in coffee Bill
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|Nyeri farmers welcome changes proposed in coffee Bill by Kenyans247(1): Mon 09, November, 2020 03:17pm|
Coffee farmers in Nyeri have welcomed the proposed changes in the industry as outlined in the Coffee Bill, 2020, which were announced by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.
The Bill allows coffee factories to register as autonomous societies under the Cooperatives Act if the farmers want to be registered as such.
This comes at a time when tens of coffee factories are agitating to split from the cooperatives, citing mismanagement of funds, corruption and poor pay.
Farmers said that while the aim of joint cooperatives was noble as they would cut down on costs and market their coffee together, they no longer benefit from being in a cooperative as they still fetch little for their produce.
With a law allowing farmers to be in autonomous factories, it is expected that farmers who had abandoned coffee farming will be encouraged to rehabilitate their farms.
No borrowing money
In the Bill, factory managements have been barred from borrowing money using farmers’ assets as collateral.
For farmers belonging to Rumukia Coffee Society who had abandoned the venture due to perennial poor pay and the society being caught up in a Sh162 million debt that almost had it auctioned, the Bill gives them a ray of hope.
"Most of these management officials are corrupt and will use our assets to borrow money and it (factory) will be auctioned when they fail to meet the terms they agreed on when acquiring the loans," said Mr Wanyeki Macharia, a farmer.
Furthermore, the Coffee Bill prohibits millers and marketing agents from lending money to farmers as the establishment and operationalisation of the Sh3 billion cherry advance fund covers that.
The fund was established by President Uhuru Kenyatta to cushion farmers against post-harvest losses.
Appoint own millers
Coffee farmers will now appoint their own millers annually from a list of at least three millers. This means that once the law is enacted, factory managements will be barred from picking the millers and coffee marketers.
The millers will pitch for their services to the farmers indicating the cost of their milling services and disclosing milling losses.
However, some farmers feel the move to allow single-run factories will finish smaller societies when the best factories opt to leave a cooperative.
This is mostly seen in cooperatives that have factories that produce quality coffee, thus fetching higher pay, while others lag behind and are forced to share their income on average among all the factories.
"Single-run factories are doing well than those in cooperatives because it makes decision-making easier,'' said Ms Esther Nyaguthii, a farmer.
The Coffee Bill also proposes that all coffee payments should be done through the direct payment system (DSS) where all payments to those who offer services will be made directly to them and not through millers, marketing agents, coffee factories, and estate accounts.
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