By Ben Oroko,Kisii-Kenya
Delegates from the 25 primary producer coffee co-operative societies in Gusiiland have mandated the management of the giant Kisii Farmers Co-operative Union(KFCU)to dispose off the Union ’s idle parcel of land to finance the establishment of a Sh25Million proposed coffee milling plant at the Union headquarters in Kisii town.
Responding to the Union Chairman,James Ndemo’s request that they resolve onthe construction of a coffee mill inthe area,the delegates said the project was long overdue and it is delay could continue exposing small-holder coffee farmers inthe region to various challenges in handling and marketing of their coffee produce by commercial coffee millers.
Contributing to the agenda during the Union’s Annual General Meeting at the Union Board Room at Kahawa House Headquarters,the delegates resolved that the Union management Committee under the guidance of Ndemo liase with representatives from among the delegates to identify one of the Union’s underutilized parcels of land to be sold and raise funds for the establishment of the mill at the Union.
The delegates unanimously endorsed the resolution,giving the management a greenlight to immediately offer one of the Union’s parcels of land for sale to meet the establishment of the mill expenses.
Ndemo thanked the delegates for mandating the management to sale the Union asset and facilitate the construction of the coffee mill inthe region,saying it will cut down coffee produce handling and transportation expenses incurred while transporting coffee for milling and marketing by commercial coffee millers located far away from the region.
Addressing the delegates,Nyanza Provincial Co-operative Officer(PCO)Zephaniah Osok advised the Union management to follow all Government procedures of disposing off public property and assets for purposes of accountability and transparence inthe management members’ assets entrusted inthe hands of public officers.
Osok commended the delegates for swiftly endorsing the establishment of a coffee mill in the region,saying it will relief farmers the burden of transportation costs and exploitation by questionable coffee millers located far away from the region.
The PCO expressed confidence inthe move,saying it was a noble step that will enable small-holder coffee growers get value for their coffee produce and encourage more farmers venture into coffee farming,to economically empower themselves and roll back rural poverty inthe region.
“Iam encouraging small-holder coffee growers inthe region to intensify their coffee farming activities inthe existing acrearage under coffee,to improve on quality coffee class and grade for them to attract good returns inthe world coffee market,”stated Osok.
According to details from the KFCU General Manager,Robert Mainya,inthe past delegates Special Delegates Meeting it was resolved that each primary coffee co-operative society affiliated to the Union would contribute Sh70,000 as a shareholding stake inthe proposed project.
Mainya disclosed that the Union management had already opened an account for the proposed project with the Co-operative Bank’s Kisii Branch,to which the societies would have channelled their share contributions.
He said,the societies’ share contributions if they were to be effected as agreed upon inthe past delegates meeting,would have facilitated the Union management raise 30 pecent down payment which translates to about Sh6million of the total cost of the milling machine..
Mainya however clarified that,besides the societies’ share contributions towards the proposed coffee milling plant,shareholding was open to individual members from the Union’s affiliate co-operative societies,with each member enjoying a minimum share contribution stake of Sh3,000 and above depending on one’s financial ability.
Mainya expressed confidence that the proposed project which is projected to benefit over 44,000 coffee farmers from 25 co-operative societies affiliated to the Union in Gusiiland,adding,it will address the problem of poor payments on farmers’ coffee sales occasioned by commercial millers’ expensive coffee transportation and handling costs.
The General Manager challenged coffee growers inthe region to improve on their coffee husbandry and acreage under coffee bushes,for them to make maximum use of the proposed coffee milling plant to be established inthe region.