Task Force Mobilised, But Will Kenya’s Coffee Industry See Results?

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Over the years, there have been too many allegations of collusion, infighting and bitterness within the Kenyan coffee industry to count.

We have seen fighting between government officials and the Kenyan Planters Cooperative Union, some potentially dubious legislation and accusations of theft.

To top things off, late last year the respected Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation, published an article that showed the existence of cartels within the sector.

That seemed to be the tipping point, as at the start of the month that the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, created an investigatory task force to investigate matters.

The nineteen-person group – entitled the ‘National Task Force on Coffee Sub-Sector Reforms’ – is to identify areas within Kenya’s coffee industry that require urgent intervention.

“The task force shall be answerable to his excellency, the president,” an official statement said.

However, it has already come under criticism for agricultural cooperatives and members of the public.

Immediately after the announcement, people started to ask questions.

How could the group achieve so much in so little time, one person mused.

The task force’s remit only last until March 24th, giving it about three weeks to conduct its interviews and investigations.

Then, a group representing coffee farmers on a national basis dismissed the panel’s nineteen members by publically stating that they lacked credibility.

They even went as far as suggest some members were conspiring with the cartels that had been running roughshod over the industry for some years now.

In response, Principal Secretary Ali Ismail moved quickly to dispel their claims.

“The team is all exclusive and the government is confident it [will] do a clean job,” he said.

“Coffee had, in the past, been the leading foreign exchange earner and the task force must know what has really done wrong.”

Ismail also stated that farmers must not politicise the issue.

Will the National Task Force on Coffee Sub-Sector Reforms find anything? More importantly perhaps, will they act if they do uncover areas of concern?

We will keep a close eye on developments as things progress.

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