The coffee industry in Kenya seems to be going through tough times as the farmers continue experiencing great losses. Statistics have shown that if the Production of the crop continues declining at the current rate, then coffee will at some point stop being a significant crop export over the next five years.
It came to the attention of the public that some county governments were drafting legislation to stop farm coffee owners from turning their holdings into housing estates. This will therefore turn into a nightmare if the industry continues to decline as it is at the moment.
The President recently formed a taskforce that he entitled the assignment of coming up with solutions for the problems facing the coffee industry. He has asked them to come up with ways of how the farmer’s income will be increased and also, recommend ways in which financing production training and factory rehabilitation can be done. The question remains, will this work?
Data from the industry showed that production of the crop declined from a high 128,926 metric tonnes in the production season of 1987-88, to 40,000 metric tonnes in 2010-11, which was the lowest in a decade. It then recovered slightly in the course of 2014.
There seems to be so many ways that can be used in coming up with solutions for the problems facing the industry, and this may only come up within the farmers and all other stakeholders in the sector. They may start by carrying out forensic audits in all their past transactions. This will enable them to get all the cartels and middlemen, who have been benefitting from the farmers sweat and robbing them of their benefits leaving them with nothing.
This may be followed by the process of ensuring that all activities taking place within co-operative societies that the farmers have formed are done in a more transparent manner. This will also work out effectively if services of independent auditors are applied, so that they can check into the accounts of the suspects in the societies.
Reforms that had been implemented by the president earlier on in the sector have borne no fruits thus leaving farmers with more struggles to get returns for the crop. The liberation of marketing and milling of coffee, debt waiver to farmers and the payment of commodities fund being some of the reforms have not fully benefitted the farmers.
Political interference has been stated as one of the key things leading to the woes facing the coffee industry as there has been a number of cartels who have taken over the industry as their own. Western donors have also been blames for some of the industry’s problems, as they put so much pressure on the government to implement the reforms that ended up killing the once steady coffee industry.
Article by Vera Shawiza.