Coffee insurance among measures introduced to curb theft
Coffee cooperatives will soon be required to keep proper quantities of coffee as part of new measures being introduced to curb coffee theft.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, growers and cooperatives have been holding excessive coffee stocks that have attracted errant traders who break in and steal coffee.
The move is in line with an overhaul to the coffee management system that will see greater onus placed on cooperatives to ensure farmers reap the rewards of their harvest.
Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary Dr Richard Lesiyampe said on Wednesday that the ministry working with the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) would be stepping up surveillance to deter theft.
“Although coffee theft is a criminal activity, some degree of laxity has been cited in most reported cases especially those affecting the cooperative societies,” Dr Lesiyampe said.
The ministry strongly chastised cooperatives for not putting in proper mechanisms to ensure farmers’ coffee remained safe, warning errant officials of prosecution if found to be abetting the crime.
The challenge has been that coffee, even while under management of the cooperatives, remains the property of the farmer, with officials accused of complicity.
“This is unacceptable and the government will not condone this laxity on the part of the officials,” the PS stressed.
Between January and November an estimated 467 bags of coffee valued at Sh5.2 million have been stolen.
Other measures being introduced include mandatory insurance covers for coffee storage or coffee on transit, installation of CCTV cameras and enhancement of security apparatus as well as thorough vetting of management committees.
The ministry is also finalizing a circular on guidelines to curb coffee theft that will be in place by the end of January 2017.
Coffee is Kenya’s third largest agricultural export and its production employs more than 600,000 farmers, 75 percent of whom are smallholders.
Coffee farmers have blamed the emergence of a cartel to their misery that has seen them remain in poverty while well connected individuals profit.
Despite the rising cases of theft, security officials have been unable to uncover where the parchment coffee ends up further complicating investigations.
Farmers have increasingly been calling for the government to allow for direct coffee sales which they believe will eliminate the middleman and guarantee them better earnings.
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