Coffee farmers seeks better prices, wants auction scrapped

Coffee farmer

Coffee cherries at a farm in Nyeri town on October 26, 2022. Coffee farmers want government to ensure better prices for their prices.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi I Nation Media Group

A section of coffee farmers in Nyeri wants the government to scrap the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) saying there is an urgent need to review the marketing laws that control sale of coffee.

Speaking during a coffee expo in Mathira, the farmers said there are laws that have denied them an opportunity to reap maximum profits from sale of their produce to overseas buyers.

According to Ndaroini coffee grower's factory chairman Joseph Mukuha, there is a monopolistic control of the auction where a few connected people are able to manipulate the prices in their favour.

He said the factory with over 2, 000 members had failed to secure good prices for their coffee at the auction since they are an independent company that is under no cooperative society.

“We are privy to details of how the auction works and it is not a good outlook for the farmers, we are encouraging the government to disband it and allow farmers to deal directly with the buyers,” he said, adding that unless farmers are allowed to sell their produce directly, the auction will continue offering poor pay to farmers and coffee production will skid.

He went on to say that the government should adopt an open market policy in coffee marketing which will in turn attract more buyers and consequently increase the price of the commodity.

“For two years, this approach has worked for us, and we have managed to pay our farmers more than Sh100 per kilo of coffee they delivered to us,” he added, noting that for 1.5 million kilos harvested in the last season, the factory had a turnover of about Sh200 million.

The Nairobi auction provides a platform where buyers and sellers come together to trade coffee allowing buyers to inspect and sample it before buying.

This year, prices at the auction have deteriorated and factories have warned farmers not to expect a good pay. With reduced production, farmers’ hopes have been dashed owing to the fact that for two years, cooperatives paid a standard of Sh100 per kilo.