President Uhuru Kenyatta has appointed a team to oversee reforms aimed at turning around the coffee industry in a move likely to test the Judiciary’s powers and spark fresh turf wars with counties.
In a gazette notice published on Friday, President Kenyatta appointed a committee to implement recommendations made recently by a coffee taskforce.
The move comes hot on the heels of a court injunction stopping any action on the taskforce’s report until a case filed by farmers and governors is determined. The case is slated for October 26.
“It is notified for information of general public that his Excellency the President… has established a committee to coordinate the ongoing coffee sub-sector reforms and to ensure sustainability of the reform agenda,” reads the gazette notice.
The team, appointed on Friday, comprises mainly of members who were in the taskforce that proposed a raft of measures to revive the industry.
It is chaired by Prof Joseph Kiayah, who similarly oversaw the work of the earlier taskforce.
In July a court suspended the application of the coffee regulations 2016, meant to bring reforms to the ailing sector. Harrison Munyi, the chair of the National Farmers Federation (NFA), said he was shocked by the President’s move to appoint an implementation team despite a pending court case.
“I am shocked that a committee has been formed to implement the work of the taskforce. It is wrong at this time in point where we have a case in court stopping its operationalisation,” said Mr Munyi.
The county bosses argue in court papers that agriculture is a fully devolved function under the Constitution and that they ought to be consulted on any matter relating to the sector.
NFA has disowned recommendations of the taskforce saying its views were altered to meet interests of cartels.
The lobby claimed that 80 per cent of their views were changed in unfamiliar circumstances and threatened to move to court to annul the report.
Among other things, the taskforce proposed an increase on direct coffee sales from the current 10 per cent to 30 per cent, promotion of speciality coffee and turning the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) into a public limited company.
Currently, 90 per cent of Kenyan coffee is traded at the NCE before accessing the export market with only 10 per cent finding its way to the international market through direct sales.
Industry stakeholders reckon that lack of a direct market deny farmers a lucrative income.
Credit: Business Daily