Coffee Farmers Stuck in the Middle of Mud

10 mins read

The biggest photo grabber in the Ruto regime is his DP Rigathi Gachagua who is in the news every day and if one was to look for what he has achieved for Kenyans in Ruto’s first year in office it is actually less than zero.

He is destroying a lot of things mainly for coffee farmers if you even forget his useless daily ramblings about the shareholding of Kenya by certain tribes. The way he is destroying the coffee industry there will be no shares left in coffee after Gachagua is done with it.

Right now as Gachagua takes photos with coffee farmers and sometimes just with coffee trees as a senior male model for coffee in Kenya, the farmers are in big trouble as the prices are tumbling down and in some cases nobody is selling coffee to the big markets.

“The data paints a grim picture. According to figures released by the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) coffee sales volumes in August nosedived by a staggering 95.62 percent. Last year, during the same period, the exchange witnessed the trading of 4,380 tonnes of coffee beans. This year, a mere 192 tonnes exchanged hands. The shocking decline has sent shockwaves through the coffee trading community, leaving many stakeholders alarmed”. International Agribusiness Report on September 21, 2023.

The real issue behind the staggering collapse staring coffee farmers in the face today is DP Gachagua’s war with the so called cartels after Ruto gave him the job to run the coffee industry for Kenyan farmers. Gachagua claimed all those companies milling coffee in Kenya and selling the milled coffee to the international coffee market were cartels and thieves robbing coffee farmers. Gachagua’s plan is to eliminate all the companies milling coffee in Kenya.

Stupidly enough, instead of Gachagua and the Kenya government building alternative coffee milling factories first before they chase away the existing millers they did the whole thing upside down by throwing the millers out and there are no new millers and now there is nobody to mill the Kenyan coffee for sale.

A panicked Gachagua who knows he is hurting coffee farmers and indeed one of the pillars of the Kenyan economy has now come with the idea of bringing back the same millers he was fighting with a new plan that if you are a coffee milling company you cannot be a marketer of the coffee you have milled. Gachagua foolishly calls it one man one job whatever that means as far as coffee milling and sale is concerned. No company is going to mill coffee if they cannot sell what they have milled. Who is going to sell their milled coffee for them? Is Gachagua going to do that?

What Gachagua does not understand is that if he creates silly conditions around milling and selling of coffee none of those milling companies are coming back. Already the big story is that as many Kenyan coffee millers were not able to supply coffee to big buyers like Starbucks, those big buyers are already identifying coffee-producing countries like Sri Lanka which is very big in the coffee market as their alternative suppliers. The Ceylon coffee from Sri Lanka is considered one of the world’s best.

“Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this crisis is the drastic drop in coffee prices. The average cost of a 50-kilogram bag of coffee beans has plunged by a staggering 31.13 percent. In concrete terms, it has fallen from Sh266.32 (US$1.81) to a meager Sh183.41 (US$1.24). This price plunge, coupled with the decline in sales volumes, has created a perfect storm that threatens the financial stability of coffee farmers and traders alike”. from Agribusiness Report

“Every day roasters are calling us and telling us they want coffee but we have to tell them that we have no coffee. These roasters are moving to alternative markets, and once they turn away from Kenya, there is no bringing them back.” coffee miller in Kenya.

So the Kenyan coffee industry is at a crossroads, facing one of the most significant crises in its history and the man charged with the responsibility to fix it is very busy taking pictures with coffee trees as well as coffee and tea farmers to show how busy he is and will solve the whole problem through pictures. Why can’t the others follow suit.

When there are no coffee trees and farmers for Gachagua to take pictures with, he is content to show off with his 18-year-old friend and doesn’t even bother to buy the poor guy some decent clothes (for 18 years) before show time with the immaculately dressed Gachagua and his wife Dorcas at their posh home in Mathira. The poor guy is there as an object for theatre.

It is kind of sad to see people coming out with long expensive boots and fashion dressing to have a picture with an old guy who hardly has any clothes or shoes. If this is the way for some people to show their love for the poor folks it says a lot about them.

In the last polls on the performance of the Ruto CSs and the whole government just about everybody got between D- or an outright F so naturally they are all looking into ways to improve their ratings by Kenyans. They asked themselves what was Kithure Kindiki doing that they were not doing and realized Kindiki was on camera every day for show time and that is why he was number one.

It all started with Shakahola massacres where Kindiki became a grave digger supervising the actual gravediggers while they were doing their work and Kindiki was there for pictures.

Then came the Nyayo House charade where Kithure Kindiki was literally residing there for pictures and his family had to send him food there and also bring clothes for him to try and look good in the pictures.

It always seems as soon as Kindiki wakes up his first job is to call the KK minions in the media and tell them he is ready for pictures and then it just gets too much. For shameless people, nothing is too much because life is all about them.

We know that Ruto himself, his CSs, and other officials work very hard when they are on camera. Ruto himself is on camera every day launching or commissioning project even the ones that were already launched, but the dude needs to be looking like he is doing something for Kenyans

Kipchumba Murkomen CS for Transport saw what Kindiki, Gachagua and his boss have been doing and decided he was not going to be left behind on the drama and theatrics you need to be seen to look busy in the Ruto regime.

Ruto needs to get his busybodies like Gachagua, Kindiki, and Murkomen on Tik Tok and let them dance themselves silly every day to show Kenyans how hard they are working even when things are falling apart so badly under their very feet like in Gachagua ’s case. Get on TikTok and give Kenyans a dance and all problems will be solved.

And now the tough-talking Gachagua seeing he has put coffee farmers stuck in the middle of mud is willing to talk to his so-called cartels. Who could have thought? But going nowhere is always a hard thing to do.

Speaking during a meeting at his offices yesterday, Gachagua asserted that the government is open to dialogue with cartels in the coffee, tea, and milk industries, but on one crucial condition. 

According to Gachagua, such discussions would only occur if the cartels agreed to raise farmers’ earnings. 

The Deputy President reiterated that the cartels have persistently resisted government directives while attempting to maintain their dominance in the agricultural sector.

Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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