Thomas Masila, coffee farmer at his farm in Tala, Machakos County. Photo by Zablon Oyugi

DP Gachagua: State plans to wave coffee farmers’ debts

Plans are now in top gear by the government to wave all the debts that have accrued over the years by coffee farmers in Kenya, confirms Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Speaking yesterday at Kabare Village in Gichugu Constituency, Kirinyaga County, the DP said they had had a conversation with President William Ruto over the issue and once the Head of State is back from his four-day state visit to the United States of America, the matter will be brought before the cabinet.

“The president has agreed with me that coffee debts with coffee cooperative societies, saccos and unions will be waived just as the sugarcane farmers’ were written off,” said Gachagua.

He added that Hon. Simon Chelugui the Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Co-operatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has been instructed to prepare a memo to be presented to the Cabinet so that a decision may be reached at for the coffee growers to start afresh.

The CS said in October last year that the state was doing a forensic audit of the Sh4 billion debt that coffee farmers owe various value chain players for years.

According to the DP, the Ministry of Cooperatives will soon disburse to farmers, the second batch of the Cherry Fund at a rate of Ksh40 per kilo.

He emphasized that the government is committed to supporting farmers in boosting the production and sales of cherries.

Gachagua has been spearheading reforms in the coffee, tea, and dairy sub-sectors to help small-scale farmers increase their earnings.

Additionally, the Deputy President noted that reforms in the tea sub-sector have been successful, resulting in increased income for farmers.

These initiatives are poised to inject energy into the struggling sector and boost the livelihoods of over 600,000 farmers, said Gachagua.

The ongoing shot-in-the-arm coffee reforms are also aimed at expanding the cultivation acreage and enhance farmer revenues.

MPs from coffee growing areas, mainly in Mt Kenya region, have been asking Ruto to consider bailing out farmers by discharging the debts to enhance profitability.

Kigumo MP Joseph Munyoro, for instance, had asked the government to extend the same courtesy it had given to sugar farmers when it wrote off Sh117 billion debt to turn around the sector in 2023.

“The mountain is a coffee-growing region, but farmers face numerous challenges. I am requesting the government to allocate Sh6 billion to support and revitalize the sector,” he said.

On October 9, 2023, the Cabinet approved the sugar debt write-off following concurrence from both houses.

However, there has been hesitation to write off coffee debts due to concerns that some fraudulent claims might be made.

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Source:By Zablon Oyugi