Disband union, co-operatives urge

By Munene Maina

Barely amonth after National Coffee Co-operative Union (NACCU) affirmed its support for Coffee Sub-sector Implementation Committee led by Prof. Joseph Kieya, Kericho Coffee Co-operative Societies have called for its disbandment.
The societies said a fresh committee should be constituted to include farmers’ representation and coffee experts to ensure sustainable and profitable coffee sub-sector.
“We object the composition of NCE board as proposed. It is malicious to take away the farmers right to representation and replace it with heavy government patronage,” read a statement signed by chairmen of 16 societies.
They also firmly rejected the Coffee General Regulations and Trading Rules of 2018 and all enactment.
“The coffee subsector is currently faced by myriad factors that cannot be fixed by regulatory change alone.”
They said the taskforce had not addressed the fundamental issues facing the coffee sector in its regulation proposals.
The societies cited production and productivity, extension services and timely affordable credit, regulation enforcement, coffee policy and strategic direction as matters of importance left out.
Introduction of non-farmers counter parties was also a concern that the societies said was intended to entrench huge cost, introduce bureaucracy, and increase players in the supply chain.
On Direct Settlement System (DSS) the societies termed it ‘unrealistic and unbelievably wrong with the sole intent to steal, destroy and kill the co-operative sector’s economic and social gains.’
“It is another scheme for leakages to siphon farmer proceeds,” read the statement published in local dailies. They called on the government to reject the rules.
In addition, the coffee societies said the proposals were introducing amorphous grouping which was a recipe for chaos in the industry as well as reducing what farmers earn.
In earlier statement NACCU had said the implementation was long overdue while the small scale coffee producers continued to suffer.
The implementation committee was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to steer coffee sub sector reforms.
There were calls made for committee’s disbandment with claims that it was appointed without public knowledge.

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