Coffee farmers in Meru have rejected a proposed monthly payment for deliveries, saying the system will impoverish them rather than improve their lives.
Meru farmers reckon that monthly payments were meagre because they have not yet started harvesting huge quantities of the produce. But the county government which engineered the project financed by Co-operative Bank #ticker:COOP to the tune of Sh200 million has blamed cartels in the sector for inciting farmers to reject the deal.
The Meru Coffee Millers Co-operative Union last week announced farmers would be paid Sh3.6 million for 156,477 kilos of coffee delivered in April at Sh20 per kilo while the societies receive Sh3 per kilo to cover operational expenses.
The farmers will also be paid a bonus after the coffee is marketed and sold. The farmers were drawn from Lower Abogeta, Kathagene, Mitine, Njoe, Kithima and Gikongoro coffee societies.
Most of them harvested an average of 100 kilos in April, which translates to Sh2,000 or less. They said the cash would not make a difference in their lives. The rejection comes as their counterparts in Nyeri are grappling with the bacterial blight of coffee disease that has invaded coffee farms since March causing the coffee bush and berries to wilt. “The disease is very contagious. The heavy rains have made it persistent and hard to control since the wet soil is a haven for the disease,” said Mr Joseph Njau, manager Nyeri Hill farm.
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