Coffee may be turning into the latest illegally traded commodity. Illegal selling is a problem that seems to naturally develop any time a product is in great demand. Kenyan coffee growers are succumbing to this temptation of illegal coffee trade, spurred on by debt and a desire to receive their money as quickly as possible. According to Ngondi Mburu in yesterday’s Business Daily, Kenya is now experiencing the harvesting of this season’s coffee crop. Despite a Coffee Act, a law requiring the coffee to be sold to a registered society only, the farmers are selling it outright. They are even being so bold as to do so in daylight at shopping centers and by the roadside. Many owe debts to the coffee co-ops, as they were given advance payments, but they’re going ahead for the fast cash instead of waiting. The needs are so great that the farmers are taking much lower prices than they would receive by waiting for their beans to be delivered to the co-ops. There have been warnings and arrests by the police. A stronger Coffee Bill is pending that will strengthen fines and license revocations. Permits are required for buying and storing the coffee. The crackdown is deemed necessary, as the government has put money into the coffee sector and even cancelled farmer debts. It has also provided farming education which has helped to increase production. Maybe more education is needed. The Kenyan farmers’ budgeting problems are similar to those of Haitian farmers. Their world has changed quite rapidly and the farmers have been faced with big adjustments in their lives. Farming practices have been upgraded through the recent educational programs, the demand for coffee has grown phenomenally, and suddenly the farmers have to learn to deal with the co-ops instead of just selling their beans to convenient buyer. To think so much is involved in getting that latte into your cup. And that doesn’t even touch the dairy side of the latte equation. Brew on appreciatively!
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