You may have already been apprised of the news coming out of Nyeri regarding the county’s recent move toward centralization of coffee production. This newsletter is simply a summary/informative piece meant to update those of you buying and/or have interest in Nyeri coffee. As the situation is still evolving, this is not meant to provide any sort of analysis or predictions about what will happen.
In short, the introduction of the new Constitution in Kenya is resulting in a substantial decentralization in power. Subsequently, county governments have quickly taken steps toward becoming more deeply involved within various areas of economic and social society. The Agricultural sector encompasses a large voter base within Kenya and in Nyeri, the recent decentralization of power has allowed the Governor to create a central mill for all Nyeri coffee in order to market it under the company’s name: Sagana. According to the Nderitu Gachagua (Governor), this move is meant to increase the price of Nyeri coffee to its “correct” value; he has expressed hopes that prices will at least double last season’s prices.
The county’s move toward centralization has been swift: an order was issued, within the last weeks that all coffee must be delivered to the Sagana mill. It is now illegal for farmers to deliver coffee to any other mill, even licensed ones. There is some powerful resistance to these changes and 13 of Nyeri’s Cooperative Societies have taken the local government to court the High Court, claiming that they have a constitutional right to choose where their coffee is milled and marketed. This case is not scheduled to be heard until mid-February, however.
Many of you know Nyeri as being a key area from where high quality coffee is sourced; it is where our partners at Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM) are located. We have received news from CKCM that it has been the main target of local government authorities, one of the major consequences of this was that last Thursday, CKCM was ordered to halt its operations.
What this news means for this year’s production and purchasing is yet to be determined. Dormans and CKCM are obviously concerned about the loss of supply of Nyeri coffee, but are currently forced to allow the situation to develop as it does.
We hope that the situation moves toward a resolution that truly takes the interests of the farmers as its main priority. From our perspective, a movement toward less transparency does not seem the best course of action, considering the ever-increasing demand from roasters for increasingly better quality and traceable coffee.
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