Coffee export in Kenya fell from 40% of Kenya’s export in 1988 to a meager 6% in recent years. The drop has partly been blamed on the out-dated legal framework anchored on the Coffee Act, 2001 that governs the coffee sub-sector. The Coffee Bill, 2020 seeks to repeal the Coffee Act, 2001 with the view to promote competition in the coffee industry, production, processing, and branding of Kenyan coffee locally and internationally and generally regulate the coffee industry.
The current legal regime comprises a multiplicity of legislation that has not been effective in remedying the problems faced by coffee farmers. The Coffee Bill, 2020 harmonizes the various rules and regulations that have been enacted by parliament for example the Coffee (Forms) Rules, 2002, the Coffee (License Fees) Rules of 2007, and the Coffee (Growers Levy) Order of 2002 just to name a few. While the object and purpose of these regulations were aimed at improving farmers’ welfare, the systems set in place by regulations were not properly implemented and the growers ultimately suffered despite being the most important part of the coffee value chain.
The Bill proposes among others, the following changes;
1. Direct Payments System (DPS) that will eliminate the payment to the factories that have previously constrained the growers due to late or no payments at all.
2. Transition the research of coffee currently undertaken by the Coffee Research Institute under the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization to the Coffee Research Institute.
3. The relegation of issuance of license permits or certificates such as; coffee nursery certificates, pulping station licenses, warehouse licenses, and growers’ milling licenses to the County Governments.
4. Enhancement of security in coffee-growing areas to cub the issue of coffee theft.
5. Allocation of more money to coffee research to provide growers with crucial information in the improvement of coffee yields.
6. The introduction of arbitration in the resolution of disputes by the Coffee Research Institute will hasten the process through which disputes are resolved.
In sum, if properly implemented the Bill has good provisions that will yield great benefits to the farmers and ultimately lead to the return on investment in Kenya.
The Coffee Bill, 2020 can be accessed here.
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