KENYA - Coffee farmers in Embu County are expected to fetch more returns from their produce with the establishment of a milling and processing factory at Kavutiri.
Governor Martin Wambora said the Sh130 million plant will mill, roast, blend, process, package and market coffee from the county to national and international markets.
He said they have also entered into an agreement with an investor to have the processed coffee value-added so as to attract better prices in the markets.
Speaking when he met coffee farmers and stakeholders to discuss issues pertaining the mill, Wambora said he will personally take charge to oversee the mill's construction so that the farmers can benefit from it as soon as the next harvesting season starts.
Recently, some farmers and managements of coffee societies had expressed concern that the county was taking too long to get the plant operational despite them buying machineries mid last year.
Wambora said the mill would enable farmers to bypass middlemen thus have power over their coffee yields for better returns.
"This will also eliminate cartels who harass farmers out of their coffee returns by pricing coffee at throw away rates. By empowering cooperatives, farmers can access better prices for their coffee and access to farm inputs such as fertilizers and sprays," he said.
Wambora also revealed that the county government is coming up with marketing strategies for the coffee produce. Last week, Wambora directed police officers to arrest anyone found transporting coffee from the county without valid permits.
He said brokers and coffee thieves transport coffee at night and called on the police to be alert to arrest the situation.
The Governor said the county's coffee mill in Kavutiri coffee society will be underutilized if the issue is not addressed in time.
"The dream of processing and branding all our coffee will not be achieved if brokers are not put off from the county.
We have found markets for our processed coffee and what is needed is to have enough coffee to utilize the mill fully," said Wambora.