Coffee farmers demonstrate over pay
26 June 2013, 18:43
Coffee farmers allied to Mwirua co-operative society in Kirinyaga County Wednesday took to the street protesting poor pay of their produce.
The agitated farmers waved placards and twigs accusing Coffee Board of Kenya of ineptness for failing to protect coffee farmers from exploitation by multinational coffee dealers.
The farmers alleged that coffee board of Kenya has been compromised and they are licensing dealers to be millers and marketers at the same time, a move they said has caused coffee prices to plummet.
Led by Stephen Mithamo, the farmers also accused management of their society of selling off farmers produces at throw away price, a move they noted has impoverished farmers.
Mithamo said that the Jubilee government should overhaul the entire coffee board of Kenya and appoint new management saying that those in office have failed to protectthe coffee industry.
They revealed that the management has exploited them through poor payment and have formed a cartel with their marketer to buy their produce at a throw away price.
The rowdy farmers said they have lost confidence with their management committee and vowed to kick them out and elect new office bearers who will take care of their interests.
“We want to put the management committee on notice we are going to kick them out and elect new officials who will have our interest at heart,” charged Mithamo.
They revealed that the management committee paid out each farmer KES 6 per kilo yet coffee prices in the international market continue to rise.
The farmers said that they have information that an international marketer has hatched a plan to buy the Kenyan coffee at low prices and then make a kill at international market through blending of poor coffees with quality Arabica Kenyan coffee which they noted is sweet and aromatic compared to coffee from other countries.
“A plan has been hatched to impoverish farmers in the country through poor payments since a cartel of companies has been formed and they are dictating prices at coffee central action,” Mithamo revealed.
Another farmer, James Wachira, demanded the revival of farmers owned KPCU pointing that this will bring serenity in the sector which is currently being controlled by foreigners.
They faulted CBK managing director Louise Njeru for sleeping on her job and failing to protect coffee farmers from exploitation adding that minister for agriculture should overhaul the entire office and bring in fresh blood who will protect farmers.
“AS farmers we urge the minister for agriculture to sack the CBK managing director for sleeping on the job; she is a major let down to the coffee sector,” they pointed.
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