NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 30 – The Kenya Coffee Traders Association (KCTA) has called on the government to quickly intervene and curb increasing theft of coffee in the country, especially in Central Kenya.
KCTA Executive Secretary Isaac Muchomba is alleging that some senior government officials are involved in the theft and illegal trade of the produce.
Muchomba said the Ministry of Agriculture through the Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK) and the Ministry of Cooperative Development should address the issue which he says posses a great threat to the coffee sector.
“The biggest challenge is that people steal the coffee beans but nothing is done. It’s like when a driver carelessly overtakes another vehicle at a wrong place, while the traffic policeman is watching but does nothing, and the habit continues,” decried Muchomba.
He added that the crooks are also stealing coffee in transit from neighbouring countries being transported through Kenya.
“Some of these countries like Uganda and Rwanda have opted to transport their coffee through Tanzania. There is need for action to be taken because it has been like a song now,” said Muchomba.
He added that there is also need for farmers to collaborate with security agents as most of them know the suspects but don’t want to come clean.
He insists that the coffee board should ban picking of coffee at night or even night processing at factories which, he said, has encouraged the theft.
“The increased demand for coffee in the international market seems to have contributed to the theft in factories across the region. But law enforcement is the only way,” he added.
He has called on the police to coordinate with guards in the farms and in factories especially when most coffee farmers are harvesting the commodity which is expected to starts auctioning on August 14.
The most recent incident occurred at Kanunga Coffee Factory in Kiambu last month where a watchman was hacked to death after a 10-man gang drove into the factory taking away more than 5,000kg of parchment coffee.
The most affected areas affected by the theft are Murang’a, Nyeri, Kiambu and Kirinyaga counties.
According to a Coffee Board of Kenya report, Sh50 million worth of coffee was stolen in the 2010/2011 production year. The board attributes the vice to attractive coffee prices.