A new bill will compel the Kenyan government to cushion coffee and tea farmers from poor prices by guaranteeing them a minimum payment for produce sold in export market.
The Bill sponsored by Kiharu MP, Irungu Kang’ata, is meant to ensure small-scale coffee and tea farmers do not suffer adverse effects of fluctuating global prices once the produce is auctioned.
The Bill proposes to double the allocation to the Commodities Fund from which more than a million small-scale coffee and tea farmers would be paid a base amount to be determined by the authority as well as extend loans for buying inputs.
It will also allow coffee farmers to sell their produce at the farm gate to societies — rather than wait for payments after milling and selling of the processed beans.
Mr Kang’ata said the Bill would not lead to additional expenditure by the exchequer and that the government would only intervene to bail out farmers.
Tea and coffee exports are some of the country’s top foreign exchange earners but fluctuating and unpredictable prices have made many farmers abandon production.The sector has been held hostage by cartels that were enabled by the previous laws.
The Bill confers the mandate of determining the minimum amount to be earned by farmers to the authority, as well as determining revenue-sharing formula between the producers and marketers.
The proposed law is a welcome change by farmers, who are often unable to determine what income they get.