The coffee industry has been receiving a lot of attention lately mostly due to the ongoing reforms. Our writer Kimuri Mwangi caught up with Francis Ngone who is the Chairman of the National Coffee Cooperative Union (NACCU) in Naivasha during the annual Cooperative Leaders Consultative Forum. Here is part of the interview.
How far are the reforms in the coffee industry?
As we are talking now the reforms have really gone far in terms of implementation. I know you know National Coffee Cooperative Union (NACCU) represents the whole country. We have had the coming in of the government lately through the Deputy President, His Excellency Rigathi Gachagua on what the government is planning to do due to the slow motion of our coffee being bought. They have upgraded the cherry advance from twenty to eighty thousand. Right now, we are in negotiations, on how this money will be disbursed.
How is the coffee auction doing so far?
I would say out of our 19 unions,12 unions have managed to be licensed by the Capital Market Authority to be able now to go the auction. We started very badly with the auction this year. This was after a known factor that the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) was being controlled by the multinationals. Other companies except the farmers had licenses to go to the NCE. But according according to the reforms, farmers now have been given authority and licensed to mill and sell their coffee. So, despite the few problems that we faced at the beginning of the year the multinationals or other people who are not licensed to sell coffee at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange had to step aside and the farmers came in. As we are talking now challenges are almost over, they have realized reforms are there for real not just for a time and they have accepted the laws as part of reforms. That is the marketing of coffee will be done by the coffee farmer himself through representation.
How are coffee prices so far?
Prices have been very discouraging because buyers had not been forthcoming to the exchange but the last two weeks have been different and we have seen changes. Prices are stabilizing and we feel by the end of November we shall have received the same prices we had during those good days. Otherwise, we want to request our farmers to be patient.
How is the cooperative movement assisting in all this?
For now, we are also really appreciating the Cooperative Alliance of Kenya (CAK) who have put us together and who are looking at the issues concerning the national level unions. NACCU is a national union as I said and soon becoming a federation. This is because according the new National Cooperative Bill that is almost getting out, national unions this is the coffee union, the dairy union and others will become federations so that we can be able to propagate farmers’ issues effectively.
How do you see the future looking up?
We feel right now we are well; the government is working very closely and I would like to take this opportunity again to thank our President, our Deputy President and the Cabinet Secretary they have given this role in the coffee sector. He is marvellous and he’s actually doing a lot as he has been to almost all counties in matters to do with coffee. We know he has a strong team including the Commissioner for Cooperatives and we hope for the best.