Ndaroini farmers now free to sell coffee to Dutch company

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga (left) addresses officials of Ndaroini Coffee Growers in his office on January 6, 2020. The farmers can now sell their produce to an international buyer after a licensing row was resolved. PHOTO | IRENE MUGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The dispute started after the factory decided to split from its cooperative society following a management row.
  • The Dutch company did business with the farmers last year, paying them up to Sh115 per kilogramme of cherry.
  • Gikanda Cooperative Society was disgruntled that Ndaroini coffee growers did not procedurally exit from it.

Farmers affiliated to Ndaroini Coffee Growers can now sell their produce to an international buyer after a licensing row was resolved.

The dispute, on who should issue a pulping licence to the newly registered factory, was pitting the county government against the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA).

The dispute started after the factory decided to split from its cooperative society following a management row.

Gikanda coffee cooperative, where Ndaroini coffee growers belonged, did not want the latter to use its licence to pulp or move their coffee, leading to the prolonged disagreement.

AGREEMENT

But, after the third consultative meeting with Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, the two parties agreed on short-term solutions that will see Ndaroini members sell their coffee to a Dutch-based company – Trabocca BV.

“The county government agreed to issue us with a movement permit, which means we are free to sell our coffee to our buyer,” said Ndaroini factory chairman Joseph Mukuha.

The Dutch company did business with the farmers last year, paying them up to Sh115 per kilogramme of cherry delivered to the factory, and topped up the deal by giving farmers incentives such as farm inputs and agronomy expertise.

Currently, the factory has one million kilos of coffee from more than 1,500 farmers affiliated to it.

ANOTHER MEETING

After the sale of coffee, the two parties will hold another consultative meeting to look for a long- term solution which will include ensuring Ndaroini acquires a pulping and marketing licence.

In the coffee regulations, county governments are mandated to issue coffee licences to farmers and cooperative societies, save for the permit to export coffee.

Besides the licensing, Gikanda Cooperative Society was disgruntled that Ndaroini coffee growers did not procedurally exit from it.

It is required that at least two-thirds of the farmers vote in favour of a split.

“Of course that was impossible given there were two factories against our split,” said Mr Mukuha.

More so, farmers affiliated to Ndaroini still owe debts to Gikanda Cooperative that the management of the society insists they must pay.

“We have asked for a list of names and the debts they owe so that we can offset them once we sell our coffee,” Mr Mukuha added.

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