Coffee growers call for elimination of brokers, access to g****l market

Tuesday, December 19th, 2023 00:01 | By
Coffee beans.
Coffee beans. PHOTO/Pexels

Coffee farmers in central region want the government to eliminate middlemen in the export business by linking them to direct buyers abroad for better returns.

The farmers drawn from Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Makueni and Machakos counties regretted that despite their toil, they have continued to suffer low incomes due to a dysfunctional system that continues to favour middlemen.

During a sensitisation forum organised by Kenya Coffee Producers Association (KCPA) in Thika, Kiambu County, the farmers cited failure by middlemen to involve them in the evaluation of coffee before determination of the product reserve price and poor auction coffee trading which have seen their income melt away over the years.

Poor marketing

Further, the farmers added that poor marketing of their produce, infiltration of the sector by insensitive brokers, higher amounts paid in form of agent fees among other challenges have continued to see them receive low returns as cartels in the sector enjoy their toil. Led by Dunson Kilonzo from Machakos County, the farmers at the same time lamented payment of farmers in shillings while their coffee is sold in the dollar currency, a situation that has seen them work more in the farms but get less.

“There are so many things that we have been ignoring in this business that continues to cost us. We have for a long time failed to do direct marketing because the industry is heavily invaded by cartels,” he said. The currency of trading has also been taken over by cartels who sell in dollars but pay is in shillings. This, among other gaps in the sector must be bridged for farmers to enjoy better returns,” said Kilonzo.

Margaret Wanjiru, a farmer at Gachika Coffee Factory in Gatundu South, Kiambu County at the same time blamed low coffee profits to failure by farmers to trace their produce right after harvesting.

She said coffee production processes before the actual consumption either locally and internationally are tedious and sometimes too demanding of farmers’ concentration, a situation that has seen middlemen take the advantage to make a kill from farmers’ toil.

According to Peter Gikonyo, the KCPA chairperson who is also a farmer from Murang’a County, farmers’ involvement in the coffee value chain is key in ensuring they make maximum returns from their labour.

Gikonyo who lauded the government-initiated raft of coffee reforms and strategies to revitalise the sub-sector and take it back to profitability urged the farmers to actively participate in the value chain processes to enjoy better returns. “KCPA will continue to represent and voice the concerns of coffee producers through active participation in policy issues and enhancing the capacity of members to address issues related to coffee production, processing and marketing,” said Gikonyo.

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