Win for coffee farmers as Sh45m mill starts operation
Establishment of Sh45 million TharakaNithi Coffee Milling plant in Giampampo in Maara constituency is expected to encourage coffee farming that had been abandoned by many due to its poor earning.
Thirty county coffee farmers’ cooperative societies in the region came together some few years ago and borrowed a loan of Sh40 million which they used to establish the miller with the devolved government purchasing for them Sh5 million coffee roster.
Speaking during a ceremony to commission the miller, Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki said his target was to bring back the glory of coffee farming which was the region’s cash cow back in the year 1980s before the sector was invaded by cartels.
The county boss said his government will continue cooperating with the farmers’ cooperative societies in order to ensure that there is promotion in both production and quality of the produce for better earning.
“My objective is to revive coffee farming by empowering the farmers and suppressing cartels who have been enriching themselves with the sweat of the poor farmers,” said Mr Njuki.
He said many desperate farmers uprooted coffee plants to grow other crops such as tea and bananas in order to earn a living.
Mr Njuki said his government will support the management of the miller to acquire relevant legal documents including Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), trade license among others so that they can be able to sell the produce both in the local and international markets without hiccups.
He directed the county agricultural officers to empower farmers by ensuring that they have the best knowledge in coffee farming for bumper production and quality produce that will earn them more money.
He noted that in the 2019/2020 financial budget that was endorsed by the County Assembly recently, his government has allocated money to boost both coffee and tea farming.
He advised farmers to embrace formation of cooperative societies arguing that government money could not benefit individuals but people who have come together.
“The money will benefit farmers who have formed cooperative societies and not individuals,” he said.
The county farmers’ cooperative societies’ umbrella chairman, Julius Riungu asked all coffee cooperative societies to deliver all the coffee to the new miller to increase production.
He said the plant had potential of becoming the best in the country if the farmers embraced it. Mr Riungu noted that once they start selling their finished products in both local and international markets, farmers will start earning twice what they got when they relied on millers in other counties.
He said there was a challenge of most of the farmers producing low grade coffee which was likely to minimize their earning.
“We want to work with our farmers to make sure that they take care of the coffee plant well so that they can harvest the best quality of coffee.
Riungu said the miller had also created many job opportunities which have been occupied by the local youths and will continue to absorb more as it expands.
He noted that there were still challenges especially with the small sizes of the stalls for storing unprocessed coffee and also lack of offices.