NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 4 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has set up a task force to investigate the rip-off of Kenya’s coffee farmers and advise how to dismantle vicious cartels.
The 19-member task force will be chaired by Professor Joseph Kieyah assisted by Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe, according to a Gazette Notice issued on Friday.
The task force draws members from various sectors both in government and private sector as well as the Attorney General’s Office, with Director Political Affairs at State House Dann Mwangi and Morris Kaburu sitting in as joint secretaries.
It will be directly answerable to President Kenyatta who has given it until March 24 to compile a report in line with its terms of reference.
The team is required to conduct consultations with coffee stakeholders in the country and undertake literature review to learn best practices that can benefit the local coffee industry whose farmers have often complained of losing hundreds of millions to middle-men and other cartels exporting the commodity.
Already a private member’s bill seeking to shield coffee farmers is pending in Parliament with recommendations to set the minimum price guarantee for tea and coffee.
The Bill authored by Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata also seeks to allow coffee farmers sell their produce at the farm gate to societies.
Farmers have been complaining of what they lose when they wait for payments after milling and selling the processed beans.
Leaders from the coffee-growing areas have been complaining that farmers are often exploited by unscrupulous brokers who control the sector and effectively determine the end benefit to the farmers by setting prices.