Legislators Optimistic The Proposed Coffee Bill Will Greatly Benefit Farmers

Many of the problems faced by coffee farmers will adequately be addressed by the Coffee and Cooperative Bill which is before the floor of parliament, Mathioya MP Edwin Mugo has said.

The legislator noted the Coffee and Cooperative Bill 2023 is expected to be passed once Parliament resumes its sessions on September 26.

If passed, the Bill, Mugo said will address theft of coffee, and mismanagement of coffee societies and ensure farmers have minimum guaranteed returns.

On Friday, the MP speaking in his constituency explained that the Bill proposes the establishment of a coffee police unit, which will protect coffee from theft and offer security at coffee factories saying farmers will be relieved from paying to guard their coffee.

‘With the establishment of a coffee police unit, farmers will not be paying for security services and this will also curb increased coffee theft at factories. Theft of coffee for the past years has been rampant thus leaving farmers without income,’ he explained.

He noted legislators from coffee-growing areas have made changes to the Bill saying what they are waiting for is passing and assenting of the bill into law.

‘We are pushing to have the bill in place since we know the suffering our farmers have gone through. The coffee sector for long has been mismanaged and that is why in the bill we have proposed coffee cooperative societies to be streamlined,’ the MP remarked.

He added passing of the bill will ensure credible, competent, and qualified leaders are elected to manage coffee cooperative societies.

Mugo highlighted that poor leadership of the societies can be blamed for the constraints and frustrations farmers have been subjected to.

‘The bill states that leaders of the cooperative societies will have term limits. Currently, some leaders have served even for more than 30 years but the proposals state that there should be a change in leadership so as to ensure those who are incompetent are relieved from the responsibility of managing the societies,’ he explained.

The lawmaker further noted that coffee factories will be required to have qualified accountants and auditors considering the large amount of money the factories handle on behalf of farmers.

He stated that with the establishment of minimum guaranteed returns, farmers will be cushioned from frequent fluctuation of prices.

‘With the new bill, farmers will also be paid immediately after the sale of their coffee. This is factored under the proposed direct settlement system,’ Mugo averred.

Meanwhile, the MP called on the government to waive debts owed to coffee cooperative societies.

The debts, he said, are still accruing since the societies continue to borrow money from financial institutions to manage the sector.

‘After the recent assessment, coffee cooperative societies owed various creditors in excess of Sh. 40 billion and the debt keeps on growing. The coffee bill will curtail borrowing by individual coffee societies and as for now in an effort to help farmers, we appeal to the government to waive the debts owed by coffee farmers through their societies,’ he pleaded.

Mugo noted that due to the debts, farmers are left to earn meager income since a big percentage of their income is deducted to pay the accrued debts.

Source: Kenya News Agency