DChemigation involves applying chemicals in the right manner to a coffee tree using the drip pipes instead of the traditional spraying method. Fertigation is a process that involves applying fertilizer to a coffee tree in the required quantities and quality.
A plan to introduce new technology and a new payment system to coffee farmers was disclosed recently by the Union’s chairman William Gatei Muiruri, during the KPCU Annual General Meeting, held at the Dandora godowns.
The agenda of this AGM, held on 28th July, 2016, was to read and adopt the notice of the meeting, to confirm minutes of the previous general held in October 29th 2015; to receive the chairman’s statement and to receive and adopt the financial statements for the year ended June 30th 2016 and the auditor’s report.
The AGM was also to elect directors nominated in accordance with Article 62(a) of the company’s articles and memorandum of association; to fix remuneration of the directors for the ensuing year; to appoint auditors and authorize directors to fix remuneration and conduct any other business falling within the scope of the meeting.
While addressing over 2,000 delegates representing coffee farmers across the country who had converged at the venue during the AGM, Gatei said that the Chinese company will use over $60 billion (Sh600 million) to carry out the project throughout Kenya for coffee farmers affiliated to KPCU and sell their coffee to the giant union.
He introduced a delegation of ten Chinese engineers who were in the country for 45 days and moving around coffee farms in act finding mission.
He added that the new farming technology, which will increase coffee yields, is set to take off in January 2017.
“At this meeting, we have officially elected officials to the board of directors to replace those who have been serving on the interim board. We are back to business and ready to take our rightful position in the country’s coffee industry. We have moved out of receivership and paid off debts owed to Kenya Commercial Bank left with a pending balance of Sh 260 million which we intend to settle soon,” said Gatei.
He assured delegates that apart from the new technology, farmers who make deliveries to KPCU will be paid faster than the existing process that takes over five months.
Gatei also commended President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointing a task force that will look at issues affecting the coffee industry, expressing hopes that its recommendations will be implemented.
He further criticized governors for formulating strict laws and regulations that impacted negatively on farmers, urging them to instead support those involved in growing of coffee
“ We have governors who are coming up with very stringent policies in areas where coffee is grown. Some want to regulate coffee farming in ways that has no benefit to this sector. Coffee farmers should be free to sell their produce to where they can fetch better prices and are treated fairly, like any other farmer,” said Gatei.
While addressing the same delegates, Joseph Kioko, KPCU Managing Director explained that the main objective of the Union was to serve coffee farmers and all shareholders better to that they obtain maximum earnings.
“ The new payment model enables us to pay coffee farmers their dues promptly upon delivery, reducing the waiting time from the previous six months to two weeks. This method is currently in use in almost all regions in the world where coffee is grown including Colombia, Ethiopia and Uganda where it has been very successful,” said Kioko. He added that while coffee production in Kenya is on the decline, at 0.4 million bags, its competitors were far much ahead, including Uganda at 400,000 bags, Ethiopia 7 million bags and Colombia at 13 million bags per annum.
Kioko assured the delegates that KPCU will strive to harness technology to ensure efficiency while introducing innovative marketing approaches and value addition to improve bottom lines and maintain the premium prices that Kenyan coffee continues to attract on the world market.
“We will ensure that benefits in the form of better prices, faster payments and excellent relations trickle down to the coffee farmer as we bury the past,” said Kioko.