State to cut off middlemen in coffee export


Published on 17/06/2009

By Peter Opiyo and Boniface Gikandi

The Government plans to eliminate middlemen in the coffee export business by linking farmers directly to buyers in Europe.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the move is aimed at eliminating middlemen that have been exploiting local coffee farmers.

In the arrangement, the Ministry of Co-operative Development in liaison with the Cooperative Bank would export the produce on behalf of farmers without involving middlemen.

Speaking at Kiboi Primary school in Kiharu Constituency, Muranga, at the weekend, the PM said, “I have instructed the Minister for Cooperatives Joe Nyagah to implement this arrangement to ensure coffee farmers are not exploited. It has been established that cartels are behind poor returns owing to deals at the Nairobi Coffee Auction.”

Corrupt cartels

The cartels, Raila said, have been setting prices to buy the commodity without taking into account farmers’ needs.

“The new move will help farmers sell their produce directly to the international market without going through middlemen and cartels, which over a long time have been a stumbling block,” said the Prime Minister, who was accompanied by Nyagah and Trade Assistant Minister Omingo Magara.

Raila said the arrangement, which would benefit coffee farmers significantly, has been finalised and would be implemented immediately.

Farmers in Murang’a District through Mr Simon Mukunu said they have been struggling without success to fight middlemen who are a stumbling block in their efforts to search better markets.

Murata Farmers Sacco in Murang’a has started assisting farmers to improve coffee production by waiving interest on their loans valued at Sh420 million.

Local DC George Natembeya said farmers in the region were being frustrated by Kenya Tea Development Authority by being blocked to hold their Annual General Meeting after the first one in April flopped.

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