Ruto warns coffee farmers against taking huge loans after debt waiver

cooperative
President Dr. William Ruto

President William Ruto has warned coffee farmers against taking more loans following a waiver issued by the government recently.

Speaking at Gitooro ASK showground in Meru County during the Meru Cooperative Dairy Union 9th Farmers Field Day, Ruto cautioned the cooperatives coffee society officials against taking more loans unless it is approved by farmers themselves.

He regretted that officials rush to apply for more loans without consulting the farmers immediately after a waiver before demanding for the next waiver noting that it has now become a recurrent problem.

The President who spoke moments after presiding over the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a KSh200 million dairy feeds factory at Mitunguu in South Imenti said coffee cooperatives societies had received a debt waiver of KSh6.9 billion and advised them to avoid taking any more debts in future.

Meru Dairy Cooperative Union members who attended the 9th annual Farmers Field Day at Gitooro ASK showground in Meru town.

He said many financial institutions are charging high interest rates and directed the coffee officials to embrace those from the government side because they have friendly rates.

“Coffee farmers must now refuse to take loans from firms that charge them up to 29 per cent interest rate. You should take loans from the government at a low interest rate of 3 per cent.

Some KSh 6.7 billion Cherry Fund is now available for coffee farmers at 3 per cent interest rate. Farmers should not worry because there is enough fund available for loans. AFC will offer farming cooperatives loans at 9 per cent interest rate,” said the President.

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The Head of State said coffee farmers earned KSh210 billion from their produce last year.

Ruto said KSh600 million will be provided for modernization of KPCU while KSh600 million will be availed to provide high quality coffee seedlings.

The waiver falls short of the expected KSh8.2 billion that farmers had requested to pay debts they owe several institutions among them Sacco’s and suppliers of farm inputs.

The clamour for the release of the coffee debt waiver swept across Mt Kenya region during the Direct Settlement System sensitisation meetings conducted by Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) two weeks ago, with coffee farmers urging the government to fulfill its pledge on debt waiver.

The President was accompanied by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, who also cautioned the farmers against taking expensive loans.

During the launch of the animal feed factory, it emerged that the facility will manufacture affordable feeds for Meru Central Dairy Cooperative Union Limited where farmers are now delivering 560,000 litres of milk daily up from 400,000 delivered the previous year.

Meru farmers were delivering 100,000 litres to the processor daily seven years ago but sustained efforts by the union and farmers had increased that amount to 560,000 litres daily.

The President said they will allow cooperatives to import yellow maize duty free in a bid to reduce the cost of production.

The Head of State lauded the farmers for the improved milk production.

In recognition of the dairy union’s success, Cooperatives CS Simon Chelugui recently appointed its CEO Kenneth Gitonga to Nairobi Coffee Exchange board.

Last year, Gitonga called for President Ruto’s intervention, saying that farmers lacked access to affordable feeds.

In further recognition of the Meru Dairy Union sterling performance, the President said KCC will start paying farmers milk at KSh53 with KSh50 getting to the farmer just like the union does.

He said the government is set to vaccinate all the 22 million herds of cattle countrywide in a bid to eliminate reinfection and ensure high quality milk production.

“The government will vaccinate all our 22 million cattle herd in a bid to eliminate reinfection and ensure high quality milk production. The government will pay for the vaccination exercise.

I urge all the governors to coordinate the exercise in order to ensure the vaccination is done at the same time countrywide. This will automatically eliminate reinfection,” noted President Ruto.

He said sexed semen will drop from KSh2,900 to KSh2,000 noting that when he took over the country leadership it was selling at KSh7,000.

He noted that farm proceeds from macadamia, avocado, coffee, milk and tea are on the rise because of the government intervention in the agricultural sector.

Ruto said last year tea farmers got KSh180 billion compared to KSh210 billion realised this year.

He said a miraa and muguka intercounty meeting will be convened within a fortnight in a bid to resolve the standoff currently being witnessed.

During the tour, the President also delivered a bus to Mitunguu TVET which he had promised during his previous tour of the institution.

He also reassured that Meru County will get an extra 10,000 affordable houses, an additional 14 markets at a cost of KSh1.5 billion and a State Lodge.

By John Majau

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