Machakos coffee farmers want budgetary support from county government

By Agnes Orang’o

Kwa Mating’i Farmers Cooperative Society chairman James Mwovi has urged the county government to consider including the coffee sub-sector in its annual budget and set aside funds for it.

This, he said, will help farmers get back to their feet and invest more in coffee since they have gained a ready market in South Korea.

Mwovi said that because many farmers had uprooted the crop, and in order to meet the Korean market demands, a lot of input from all stakeholders is needed.

Coffee farmers in Ukambani recently got a boost when they landed a deal that will see them sell their coffee directly to a buyer from South Korea without going through middlemen.

“Agriculture is devolved and coffee is among the popular cash crops in Ukambani and mostly Machakos. The government should take responsibility and give the farmers subsidized seedlings and fertilizer. If we can have a budget then the farmers will be able to go back to coffee farming smoothly and produce quality coffee for our buyer,” he said.

He explained that part of that budget will go to improving quality and quantity of produce through soil testing, type of fertilizers, and education on seedlings and pesticides to use as most of them did not have the capacity.

He also called on the government to carry out capacity building and benchmarking for the farmers to learn new techniques, as well as reinstate extension officers to educate farmers on best practice.

“In Mount Kenya a farmer gets 10 kilogrammes from one plant; if our farmers tour these places they will learn how things are done. That’s why we need the intervention of the government because coffee farming is expensive, the farm inputs are costly and many farmers can’t afford it,” he said.

A spot check by Sacco Review established that many coffee farmers cooperative societies in Matungulu and Kangundo were sinking into debt due to loans they borrowed to invest in coffee farming, only to uproot them to venture into other farming activities.

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