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Kenya: Rampant Theft Slows Down Coffee Sale at Nairobi Exchange

Coffee societies have been delivering small batches of the produce to factories due to fear of theft, affecting auction at the Nairobi exchange.

Meru Coffee Millers Cooperative Union (MCMCU) chief executive Dancan Kiambia said they did not submit samples because they had not milled enough quantities.

“The societies are delivering beans in small quantities as they pulp and dry them since they fear that it could be stolen. We have to wait until we have enough quantities before milling,” he said.

In Imenti South, Mikumbune Coffee Cooperative Society executive officer Josephat Kwiriga said they had stopped deliveries of huge quantities to millers, adding that they had also improved on security at their factories and there were plans to install alarm systems.

Not submitted samples

The Nairobi Coffee Exchange on Monday said five millers that had been issued with trading licenses by the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) had not submitted samples for sale this week.

Meru County Coffee Marketing Agency (MCCMA) Limited was issued a full license alongside four others that got conditional permits.

They are Kipkelion Brokerage Company Limited, Murang’a County Coffee Dealers Company, Mt Elgon Coffee Marketing Agency Limited and United Eastern Kenya Coffee Marketing Company Limited.

However, Mt Elgon Farmers’ Cooperative Society boss Philip Ndiema said they were still waiting for beans from farmers.

“The season has not yet started here and we don’t really have much to trade. The moment we mill enough quantities, we will send samples to whoever is dealing with the auction,” Mr Ndiema said Tuesday.

Meru County Commissioner Ngumo Karuku said in the last six months, four factories have lost more than 360 bags of coffee valued at Sh5.8 million.

Collusion

Police suspect that insiders, such as workers and management, collude with criminals to steal the coffee before it is delivered to millers.

Most of the theft reportedly happens after stakeholders meet and settle on when to deliver the coffee to a miller.

“How do factories keep grade one coffee in their stores without any security measures? We suspect some managers collude with thieves. Despite having agreed that local police be informed when there is coffee in the factory, they do not alert us,” Mr Karuku said.

But Mr Kwiriga said despite informing the police that his society had coffee on the drying beds three days ago, security had not yet been provided.

Stolen at night

“Police should also cooperate with us because we suspect some of them are compromised. When coffee is stolen at night, the lorries transport it without any permit yet there is the curfew and there are roadblocks. Where do the thieves go?” Mr Kwiriga posed.

Mr Karuku recommended the vetting of all societies’ staff and management committee members as well as enhancement of security in factories.

The factory manager would also be required to inform the police of any coffee in the stores, install CCTV cameras and boost security.

“Every factory must have the required layers of security when they know that their coffee is in store. These are some of the things we will look into to ensure we tame the coffee theft,” Mr Karuku said.

Experts in the sector said millers are not supposed to market coffee and their failure to participate in the auction is as a result of war between Agriculture CS Peter Munya and the CMA.

The consequence of this, the expert said, would lead to marketers sabotaging the auction.