The government will withdraw licenses of millers and marketers who are colluding with coffee thieves to rip-off farmers.
Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries cabinet secretary Willy Bett disclosed that farmers in the country have in the last one year lost 465 bags of clean coffee worth about Sh10 million.
Speaking today after a meeting with coffee stakeholders in his office, the CS warned that Government will not relent but withdraw the licenses of those caught in the practice.
Industry actors have been complaining of coffee being stolen by cartels who include prominent personalities in the industry, security officials, and unscrupulous traders who are assisted by coffee cooperative officials.
Bett stated that there is no way some coffee value chain players can absolve themselves from blame, saying the coffee cherries from cooperative societies ended somewhere and preferably to the millers and marketers before it was finally exported.
“Unethical trade behaviour is contributing to the grinding poverty farmers are reeling under. The theft is a well-coordinated game by various players who soon will be brought to book and subjected to the rule of law,” said Bett.
He continued “If coffee is stolen from the farmer, it must be taken somewhere and mostly likely to the miller and marketer,” he added.
Bett further explained that national government in collaboration with value chain players will work towards curbing the vice by employing technology aimed at enhancing traceability of all coffee produced in the country.
“The new initiative will heavily borrow from the horticulture industry so that once miller and marketers receive coffee from farmers, they are able to account by confirming where it is coming from”, Bett said.
He called on the coffee cooperative management committee to insure their coffee with local insurance companies saying the ministry will soon convene a meeting with police, Kenya Revenue Authority, County Governments, Judiciary and other players in the industry to discuss the matter.
The Cabinet Secretary further stated that national Government is reaching out to Council of Governors and two other groups of farmers that sought legal redress against gazetted regulations to implement the Crops Act 2013.
“I am appealing to the various aggrieved stakeholders to agree to a roundtable meeting with the Government in the next 14 days with a view to reaching out to an outside court settlement.
This, he added, will quicken the gazettement of the regulations and ensure coffee farmers’ issues are addressed.
In case the groups fail to agree to the out of court settlement, Bett stated that government will appeal to the judiciary to fast track the case so that it can end the stalemate.
Last year, the High Court suspended the coffee General Regulation 2016 following a suit filed the by the Council of Governors. Another farmers group from Nyeri County and an individual also moved to court to challenge the same.