Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi heckled at Meru Coffee conference
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi had a rough time in the presence of Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, after farmers heckled him while addressing at a Meru Coffee Conference.
The CS, who unsuccessfully contested for the Meru gubernatorial seat in the August 2022 polls, was trying to convince the farmers of his commitment to revamp the coffee sector, in the ongoing two days’ coffee summit in Meru town.
DP Gachagua, is tasked by President William Ruto to spearhead coffee sector reforms, and he graced the event meeting various stakeholders and farmers at large.
The interruption happened following a question on licensing of coffee cooperatives.
The angry farmers shouted at the CS, poking holes on his commitment.
“And that is why I am on my feet to express myself and my commitment to reform the coffee sector,” Mr Linturi told the irate farmers.
The berry producers, mostly drawn from the coffee growing zones in Mt Kenya region, wanted the CS to answer why it has taken long to revamp coffee cooperatives since he assumed office in 2022.
It took some minutes before they calmed down, Linturi demanding to know from the Coffee Directorate who licenses cooperatives.
“I confirm we are the ones licensing the cooperatives,” Dr. Benson Apuoyo, the Acting Director at the Directorate answered.
The Agriculture CS, however, directed the state owned institution to revoke all coffee cooperative licenses.
“They should reapply, so that we know them,” Linturi said, noting that the move will enable reforms in the coffee industry across the country.
Coffee farmers have been lamenting about poor leadership in the subsector, pointing fingers at cooperatives leaders for swindling them of their hard earned cash.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture data, currently coffee production stands at 36, 000 metric tons per year, up from 140, 000 metric tons which used to be harvested 20 to 30 years ago.
The decrease is largely occasioned by coffee farmers turning their farms to other lucrative ventures, such as real estates, due to poor payment