Focus has shifted to the upgrade of coffee factories as the roll-out of Sh3 billion cherry advance loans to farmers enters its final stages.
The cherry fund which will see farmers paid Sh20 a kilo for delivered beans is expected to be rolled out next month after stakeholders in Nyeri, Murang’a, Embu, Tharaka-Nithi and Meru counties endorsed the plan.
However, in Meru, farmers said coffee factories should also be bailed out even as they received the advance in order to facilitate pulping of coffee.
“We appreciate the government’s efforts to revive the sector but our factories died long time ago. The equipment is also obsolete and now that we expect to increase production they should also be revived,” said Kenneth Kimathi, a farmer from Imenti South.
Factories workers also pushed for the revival.“ We have not been paid our salaries for two years now and we have to do other things to earn our living. It is tough but what keeps us moving is that we believe the sector has a future,” said a worker at Mukiria Cooperative Society in Imenti Central.
In 2010 the society which has about 3,000 farmers sold 1.5 million kilos of coffee at Sh80 each, earning Sh120 million. As production declined, last year the society earned a paltry Sh27 million.
Meru Trade, Tourism and Co-operatives executive Maingi Mugambi said there is a need to reconstruct the factories.
“Modern technology should also be adopted where there are cheaper pulping machines that cost between Sh100,000 and Sh200,000,” he said.
Farmers who can afford should be assisted to buy them
“We as the county government are ready to co-operate with the national government in their revival. Farmers should also be facilitated to buy smaller pulping machines,” he said, adding that at least Sh200 million will be required to revive 127 coffee factories in Meru County.