The county government of Meru has received a low-interest loan of Sh500 million to promote Coffee Millers Co-operative Union under a programme which is in its pilot stage. The funds will enable the payment of farmers for delivering coffee berries even prior to milling and marketing.
The Trade, Tourism, Investments, and Cooperatives County Executive, Maingi Mugambi said they had finished negotiations with the bank which will, in turn, enable the monthly payment of farmers.
“The money will be available when the miller needs it and will be repaid at a very low-interest rate. The biggest problem that has seen the sector crumble is lack of funding to the farmers who sell the little produce they have to the middlemen,” Mugambi stated. “Already we have completed plans to pay farmers in April for coffee delivered this season with the next payment coming in June and thereafter they will be paid every month. This, we believe, will encourage them to continue growing coffee.”
Meru County Coffee Millers Co-operative Union chairman, Zablon Mbaabu said farmers will be paid Sh20 per kilograms for berries delivered and then wait for bonuses once the coffee is sold.
“At the moment, we are paying Sh60 to Sh90 per kilogram depending on the coffee grade. This model of payment will guarantee farmers money for buying farm inputs as they wait for the bonus,” he said and highlighted that the farmers were growing 6 tonnes less than their daily capacity of 18 tonnes.
Meru County coffee farmers have in the past been frustrated by low prices of Sh20 for their berries which resulted in uprooting the crop and replacing it with tea, miraa, and macadamia. Therefore, the county government of Meru hopes to revive coffee farming so that it can compete favourably with other economic ventures.