Coffee farmers are set to benefit from a raft of announcements from Agriculture CS Peter Munya concerning the sector. The CS has been on the ground meeting coffee cooperative society leaders expounding more on the coffee reforms going on. For a start, farmers don’t have to deliver their coffee to New KPCU to benefit from the Kshs. 3 billion Coffee Advance Revolving Fund. They just need to meet the requirements laid down to qualify.
Munya asks farmers interested in the advance to sign up guarantee forms so that the money borrowed will be deducted after selling their coffee. He says farmers can get up to 40 per cent advance of coffee delivered to the factory whose value will be determined by the price of coffee at the auction at the moment. Munya says already some farmers in Murang’a and Nyeri have received the funds. The money will benefit them as they wait for the main payout.
The Cherry Advance Revolving Fund was started by President Uhuru Kenyatta in April last year. It was among other recommendations by the Coffee Subsector Reforms Implementation Committee appointed by the President in 2016 to diagnose what was ailing the sector. It was a response to farmers complains that banks had auctioned them as their interest rates on credit was very high and they couldn’t cope with it.
The farmers will also be able to access subsidized inputs conveniently in an arrangement by the Ministry between New KPCU and Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC). Farmers can buy fertilizer from KNTC for Kshs. 2,000 which normally retails at Kshs. 2,800. The CS says that plans are underway for KNTC to be taking inputs to farmers’ society headquarters where farmers will be collecting the inputs ordered.
New KPCU coffee mills at Meru, Sagana and Dandora are also set to be rehabilitated. Munya says the mills can mill coffee not only from the country but from the entire East Africa region as they had modern coffee milling equipment.
Most coffee factories were built so many years ago with the facilities and the equipment having seen better years and most of the work is done manually. From old coffee weighing scales to coffee drying benches, the factories need upgrading to reduce primary processing losses. Munya says the Ministry will help coffee cooperative societies to upgrade the factories as the machines and technology they were using were outdated and were compromising the coffee quality needed. Since there was no money to upgrade all the factories, the CS says they will start with those serving many people and with high production and an assessment of what is needed is being carried out. The upgraded factories will have digital weighing scales installed for accurate readings, modern drying benches built and alarms installed to curb rising coffee theft. The factories use the wet pulping machines which will be replaced by dry pulping machines which do not use water. Technology will be a key factor in the reforms with plans to digitally connect coffee society headquarters with New KPCU, KNTC, and the factories. This is for easy flow of information on coffee deliveries between the parties to ease the coffee cherry fund disbursement. Kshs. 1.5 billion for the mills and factories upgrade has been set aside which is part of a project by the World Bank.