Kenya’s Life and Death Coffee Battle

A battle raging in Kenya between police, farmers, smugglers, business people, and governmental officials demonstrates how corruption and greed become involved as soon as a commodity goes high demand. The stuff of action movies, it’s a drama played out in real life, and unfortunately, it seemingly has no quick resolution.

As told on, coffee in Kenya has become a valuable commodity due to its high value because of the great demand. When cheap products become gourmet and desired, corruption invariably steps in. In Kenya, we can watch the worst kinds of corruption, as the people sworn to protect become the victimizers taking a cut of the action. Somehow trucks, pick-ups, and even “boda boda taxis” and motorbikes are filling up with bags and ferrying it across the river to Uganda. Yet the authorities seem unable or unwilling to stop the smuggling. One smuggler actually stated that the police do nothing as long as they get their share.

It doesn’t seem farmers can do much to protect their crops, as they’ve been ripped off no matter what they do. Security guards have been beaten, tied up and even killed; coffee being transported on the roads has been stolen; and even though some of the smugglers actually paid the farmer for the coffee, it was not at top prices and was done illegally. Coffee berries in the field are even being stolen. The smuggling may be profitable but it’s not without its down side. Several smugglers recently drowned while trying to get the coffee bags across the river. Some have been shot and killed by farmers and their guards. Of course, there are always those willing to accept those odds if good money can be made. The article didn’t state what happens to the coffee once it gets to Uganda. Is it marketed for export as Ugandan or Kenyan coffee? A Google search failed to answer the question. Stay tuned for further updates.

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