Nyeri governor yesterday received results of a task force mandated to publish the best way to maximize coffee and tea earnings for the benefit of farmers in Nyeri county.The task force head was a Mr Mwago who served
either in the board of Kenya Planters Co-operative Union(KPCU) or Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK).The KPCU,a farmers milling body that was destabilized by enemies of value addition,including German cartels,has been recommended in the report as the milling choice before other measures are put in place.
I would like to advice the Nyeri Governor as follows.
1.The full report should have been made public by posting it to the county website for better ventilation.The fact that the governor is working with a small coterie of people hardly augers well for affairs of the county.
2.Value addition can only come after maximizing production.Coffee prices are steadily rising globally and the farmer must be enabled to reap full benefits.
3.Maximizing production is done by optimizing on EXTENSION SERVICES FROM GOVERNMENT EXTENSION OFFICERS.Once you engage these professionals to map all coffee gardens,they will be able to help all farmers towards self actualization.
4.A scheme to help farmers purchase chemicals and fertilizers ON CREDIT must of course be started immediately.
5.An insurance scheme to guarantee farmers a minimum return on earnings must be put in place.This entails monthly deductions towards the insurance premium payments by every farmer.In return,the farmer is assured of a certain minimum income for sustained livelihood.
6.All research findings and recommendations on soil samples from all gardens by COFFEE RESEARCH FOUNDATION (CRF) must be the road map the extension officers must follow.
That is what must be done before value addition is finally put in place.Value addition is not a walk in the park.For example,the plant for making instant coffee costs over kshs 1 billion.Secondly,market hiccups are so many it actually requires direct government intervention like in Ethiopia and Rwanda.It would also require trained personnel in coffee matters at university level in Italy and Germany,for example.This issue cannot be decided by friends of the governor alone.