By Felix Wanderi
Kiambu County coffee co-operative societies have now come together under one association in a bid to resurrect the sector.
The 22 societies came together to form Kiambu County Coffee Farmers Association so as to foyer the government support for coffee production, processing and marketing.
Kiambu County Governor James Nyoro said the move is geared towards the right direction where the farmers can be able to enjoy economies of scale and shared agronomy support.
Nyoro who was speaking in Gatukuyu Gatundu North where he distributed 10,166 bags of high quality fertilizer to the farmers for free, said that his government will seek to provide incentives for coffee farmers to increase their yields.
“This is part of my commitment to enhance agriculture and ameliorate the economic well-being of Kiambu farmers,” said Nyoro.
Nyoro said that the societies has been incurring losses by hiring agronomists unlike when in an association where they can hire less agronomists who will be going round the coffee estate hence minimizing expenses.
He said that it is not necessary for each society to have a processing plant as the societies can have one major plant where they can mill their coffee.
Nyoro added that his government plans to distribute 750 tonnes of fertiliser at a cost of Sh.40 million to the 22 co-operative societies which will in turn be distributed to the most active farmers.
He assured the farmers that his government through the agriculture department will initiate or rather rehabilitate the dilapidated fermentation tanks, drying beds and other facilities in the primary processing facilities.
Nyoro added that Kiambu County Government is set to put up coffee cafes in major towns and education institutions with a central aim of promoting the consumption of locally produced coffee.
“The county is running another project with the World Bank where it will contribute Sh.70 million within two years with the bank injecting Sh.140 million for the Coffee Revival Action Programme in the next financial year,” said Nyoro.
CEC for Agriculture Joseph Kamau made it clear that the coffee co-operative societies are not merging but have agreed to form an association to make it easy for the county government to support them as whole not as individual societies.
Kamau said that his government is committed to revitalize the sector for the societies to have a better platform for selling their coffee.
“We are presently having talks with the coffee societies giving them time to identify areas where they feel that the county government should intervene for instance marketing and advocating better pay,” said Kamau
He added that the department of agriculture have invested in special fertilisers that lower soil acidity which is being supplied to farmers for free to boost their production.
“The secondary effect of poor market prices is that farmers are not in apposition to buy enough inputs. We have therefore set on a mission to give framers a shoulder to lean on especially when it comes to fertilisers and pesticides,” said Kamau.
He pointed out that most farmers lack technological-knowhow on coffee production and even some do not know what inputs to use, quantities required and the appropriate pruning methods.
“We have hence embarked on an extension programme called the village-based advisers where one model farmer helps others improve their production through modern crop production,” Kamau said.
Francis Maara, Chairman for Kiambu County Coffee Cooperative Society said that reduced production and low price has seen coffee farmers at the bleak, unable to purchase basic inputs.
“This is the first time the county government has heed to farmers requests in terms of farm inputs, marketing and processing, as everyone else including banks and donors are turning their backs on the coffee industry,” said Maara.
Maara noted that many farmers had given up on coffee farming due to poor prices and exploitation by middlemen in the sector.