How middlemen, private millers are dealing a blow to coffee cooperatives

By Emmanuel Gwakoi

Gusii Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (GCFCU) Chief Executive Officer Robert Mainya has disclosed that coffee hawking has affected operations of coffee farmers’ cooperative societies and farmers earning.

Speaking to Education News in his office, Mainya argued that farmers who sell their produce to middlemen and private millers deny the cooperatives the chance to know exactly the quantity and quality of coffee produced across Kisii and Nyamira counties.

He went on to add that the farmers’ act, make it difficult for officials of cooperative societies to repay some loans taken to facilitate operations.

“It’s very wrong of farmers to sell their coffee to middlemen and private millers yet they benefitted from loans from cooperative societies to boost their production,” he said

He revealed that plans are underway for the union to mill and sell the coffee directly to buyers within the union.

“We’re certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS). We’ve been selling coffee to individuals and we’re working on availing it to a wider market.  Our miller crushes 1.2 tonnes per hour and can process coffee from the entire Western region and parts of Rift Valley,” Mainya explained.

He appealed to farmers to embrace coffee farming as a business and challenged members of the public to consume the coffee to boost the country’s revenue.

The CEO also implored farmers to deliver their coffee to the societies immediately to avoid fermentation, emphasizing that fermented coffee has a sour taste and affects the quality of coffee.

“It also fetches low prices in the global market and affects farmers’ incomes,” he said.

 He appealed to farmers affiliated to the union to shun hawking their coffee and instead deliver it to the cooperative societies for pulping and ferrying to the union’s miller.

He challenged the farmers to tend their coffee farms properly to increase the quantity and quality of beans to enhance their earnings.

He expressed concern that most societies have old pulping machines and challenged managers to ensure they are repaired and serviced periodically to avoid delays in processing the beans, drying, milling and auctioning at the market.

Mainya said the union has given the societies digital weighing machines but some societies lack electricity forcing the Weighing Clerks to operate manually.

He appealed to the national government to connect the cooperative societies with electricity to hasten weighing and accuracy of the kilograms to benefit farmers.

“Powered digital weighing machines are faster to operate and saves time for farmers to return to their homes to be engaged in other income generating activities to improve their lives.” Mainya explained.

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