CS Munya asks farmers to apply for the cherry loan
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya on Tuesday said the government is doing everything possible to promote sustainable coffee production in the country.
He said deliberate strategies aimed at mitigating challenges that coffee farmers have been facing for decades have been made and urged farmers to capitalize on the same.
He spoke at the Kiambu county headquarters when he held a meeting with leaders of all the coffee co-operative societies in the county.
The 23 societies have consolidated into one body namely the Kiambu County Coffee Growers Association under the chairmanship of Francis Maara.
Munya said the recently launched Cherry Advance loan was one of the strategies which will see coffee farmers acquiring loans to improve their farming.
"Individual farmers are at liberty to apply for loans which will accrue only a 3% interest. For individual entrepreneurs, the loans will go directly to them and not through societies," he said.
Munya observed that rehabilitation of the coffee sector in the country must start with 'support from the growing level' which he said informed the government's decision to set up the 3 billion Cherry Advance Fund.
The CS who was hosted by Kiambu governor James Nyoro reiterated that the government has taken over the management of the Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU) to streamline it's operations after decades of mismanagement.
"KPCU is now a parastatal namely New-KPCU managed by a board chaired by Henry Kinyua and is the one fronting the issuance of the loans to willing farmers," he said adding that only farmers with 20 acres of coffee qualify for the loan.
He further said that his ministry would avail fertilizer to farmers and other farm inputs at subsidized prices adding that the government was addressing issues of perennial suffering of farmers in the sub-sector.
Governor Nyoro regretted coffee farmers still live in abject poverty whereas coffee brokers and roasters 'shamelessly' make huge profits.
Saying that coffee farming should no longer be a poverty trap in the county, he hailed the move by coffee cooperative societies in the area for agreeing to merge for easy and efficient management.
The governor revealed that coffee societies in the county have a collosal 450 million loan owed to suppliers and banks.
He urged the government to intervene and help reschedule the payment of the loans lest farmers and respective society's properties are auctioned.
"We are not keen on asking the government to waive the loans but as a county, we are ready to be guarantors so that the payment of the debts be rescheduled until the economy and market stabilizes," he said.
Nyoro who is an international student food security expert said that coffee is gold for Kiambu and urged farmers to embrace agri-business.
"We want to see a Kiambu full of vibrancy. We want to see our youth setting up coffee shops and kiosks all over because the coffee market is readily available," he said.