The Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has said he will champion and push for a stakeholders’ conference on implementation of coffee reforms in two weeks.
The DP was personally assigned the role to spearhead the tea, coffee and dairy sector reforms by President William Ruto.
The DP had committed to overseen the reforms beginning January this year but very little has been realised if any apart the initiative implemented by former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.
Interestingly, major drawbacks have been witnessed including the resumption into office by the formerly ousted Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) directors which were among the key changes overseen by CS Mithika Linturi’s predecessor.
Speaking when he visited and engaged coffee farmers in Mathira, his home constituency, in Nyeri County yesterday where he has retreated to for the Easter holidays, Gachagua said the conference will be to firm up proposed reforms in the subsector.
The conference will bring together representatives of farmers from coffee growing counties, governors and lawmakers, Cabinet Secretaries for Trade, Agriculture, Cooperatives and members of the Coffee Exchange and Coffee Directorate among other relevant agencies.
“The purpose is to agree on what needs to be done and the MPs and Senators will take it from there and come up with regulations and legislations to cushion farmers from middlemen.” The Deputy President said.
“We are visiting farmers to understand what ails the sector. There is less production because farmers are less motivated because of poor prices and exploitation by cartels.” He added without mentioning the names or identities of the shadowy cartels.
Instead, Gachagua said farmers will begin enjoying better returns once the revival initiatives take root.
“We must restore the glory of the coffee farmer. Personally, I was educated from proceeds from coffee. In the 1970s and 1980s, this crop had a lot of credibility.” He added.
The Deputy President also visited a host of farmers from Ragati Tea Factory in Ihwagi Village of Mathira Constituency, and assured them that plans are underway for another conference for stakeholders in the tea subsector.
“We will continue with these engagements and shortly we will organise
Another conference where we will discuss matters tea and be able to add value for increased productivity for our tea and better returns for our farmers.” He observed.
The conference is to enrich ongoing discussions on reforms in the sub-sector in parliament and other avenues, including his office.
“We have embarked on an elaborate strategy bringing the stakeholders together to find out the interventions required in terms of direct marketing of our tea and value addition.” The DP noted.
The Deputy President challenged the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to explore ways to process orthodox tea he says fetch better prices internationally.
“We want to encourage our farmers to consider producing orthodox tea because it fetches better prices. We are in discussions with KTDA, Tea Board of Kenya and counties on how we can assist our KTDA factories so they can install a production line for orthodox tea which costs twice as much as the conventional tea.” Gachagua added.
He revealed that the challenges facing Kenyan tea marketers in Pakistan had been solved after a visit by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi.
“We are also reining in the cartels that have been taking advantage of our tea farmers and coming in between the growers and consumers globally,” he added.
The Spouse of the Deputy President Pastor Dorcas Rigathi recalled how tea farming was profitable to farmers and the country’s big foreigner earner in the 90’s
The Deputy President also thanked KTDA for paying mini-bonuses two months ago saying it was beneficial to the farmers.
Under Executive Order No. 1 of 2023, President William Ruto tasked his deputy with the role of spearheading public sector reforms, Gachagua has hosted several discussions with smaller groups, including Parliamentary Caucus on Coffee and Tea Sub-Sector Reforms. The conferences under the two cash-crops, will, therefore, be a sum-up of the discussions towards final frameworks of implementing the reforms for the famers to benefit more.
The Deputy President is also overseeing reforms in the milk sub-sector.
Together with the other sectors, the government targets increasing productivity as well as improving gains for farmers.