News Column

Farmers Protest 'Sour' Othaya Coffee Mill Deal

January 22, 2014

Wambugu Kanyi

FARMERS at the Kiaga Coffee Factory in Othaya, Nyeri county on Monday publicly disagreed about where to sell their coffee. Some of the farmers demonstrated at the factory in the morning after they realised that 199 bags of their parchment coffee had been taken to the Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society for milling before marketing. They said they will never allow coffee to be taken to the mill since it pays "peanuts". The farmers said the cooperative pays Sh 15 per kg of coffee compared to neigbouring societies which pay more than Sh 60 per kg after selling to private millers. They said they do not know why the 199 bags were removed early in the morning. The farmers said they suspect it is a sinister by the society. Farmer Macharia Kihara said they had called for a meeting but it was postponed at the last minute after factory management declined to attend. Another farmer Julius Muturi said he will not let his coffee be sold to the society. He said he would rather be given his coffee back. Area ward representative Mwangi Ngiria, who joined the farmers in the protest, said the farmers have been oppressed for many years and it is time for them to search for another miller that is offering the best prices. Kiaga Coffee chairman John Gachoka said Ngiria is inciting a section of the 550 farmers of the factory. Othaya Farmers chairman Newton Mwangi said they ferried the coffee on time and have all the supporting documents. "This case is just meant to give political milage to Ngiria who does not understand coffee matters. We have all the right documents to support the fact that we are doing the right thing at the right time," he said. Mwangi said the factory has been taking the coffee to the mill since 2010 . He said he does not know why Ngiria is bringing politics into the coffee sector yet he was just elected last year. Mwangi said Kiaga is among the 19 factories in the society which have been earning good money from coffee.

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Source: AllAfrica

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