Stakeholders in the cooperative movement aired the major challenges facing the movement to Cooperatives & MSMEs CS Simon Chelugui and PS Patrick Kilemi.
National Cooperative Housing Union (NACHU) National Chairman Francis Kamande lamented about the few housing units in the country.
He revealed that Kenyan urban centres need about 2,500,000 housing units but there are only 500,000 housing units, adding further that the deficit of 2,000,000 housing stocks has led to the creation of many slums in urban areas.
Kamande urged the government to use cooperative societies to build housing units in urban areas.
“Current statistics from World Bank Report shows that 90 per cent of houses in Kenyan urban and rural areas have been provided by the cooperative societies,” he said.
National Coffee Cooperative Union (NACCU) Chairman Francis Ngone explained that the sub sector’s biggest problem is being denied entry into Nairobi Coffee Exchange and urged the government to help them so as to improve their status.
Kenya Cooperative of Coffee Exporter (KCCE) Director Julius Riungu said that there is a big decline in the quantity of coffee being produced.
He requested the government to reinforce smart agriculture to all coffee growers in Kenya to cope with the impact of climate change which is affecting the whole world.
Riungu also urged the government to increase investment in coffee research to enable farmers to improve quality coffee production and to facilitate farmers with farm input.
The tea cooperative society was represented by Yetu Sacco CEO Denis Mwiti Kirimi who said most tea farmers have debts which make them not enjoy the fruits of their hard work.
He added that tea contributes to 43 per cent of the country’s GDP hence the government needs to urgently intervene to rescue thousands of tea farmers who are currently suffering.
Ambassador Joshua Terer urged the government to commercialize tea in order to reduce the cost of production and increase the quality of tea being produced.
Chairman of Kiambu County Dairy Farmers Association Peter Mwangi represented the Diary Cooperative Societies in Kenya.
Mwangi revealed that milk production countrywide in the recent past has reduced to as low as 2.5 million litres per day.
He urged the president to intervene in order to rescue dairy farming , since if given the necessary attention, dairy farming is able to put good money into the hands of both young and old Kenyans.
He lamented that they do not have a viable market for their produce since a lot of milk in the country is imported.
Mwangi also lamented that the animal feeds being sold to farmers are of low quality and very expensive, further requesting the CS to ensure subsidized fertilizers are channeled through cooperatives to enable Kenyans access them easily.
The chair also urged the government to ensure the dairy farmers are directly represented in the Kenya Dairy Board so that their needs and concerns are addressed.
“The ministry should also have annual evaluation, monitoring and follow-up events to enhance continued development in the dairy industry,” he advised.
Stima Sacco CEO Dr Gamaliel Hassan represented the financial Saccos.
He said financial Saccos in Kenya have various challenges like inability to involve in foreign exchanges as well as not being allowed to access regional and national payment systems.
He added that despite the fact that Saccos should open branches in other Eastern African countries like South Sudan, Tanzania, DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, there is a big legal block that stops them from doing so.
“If we expand our activities, the main beneficiary will be the government who will receive taxes. We will also be able to create employment to many Kenyans who will get work in the branches in the East African countries,” he said.
Chairman of Kenversity Sacco Prof. George Makokha said most university based Saccos are slowly dying and urged the government to urgently intervene and save such Saccos.
By Peter Otuoro