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Chaos erupts at a meeting of coffee growers in Embu

Chaos erupted at the Murue Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Embu on Friday as rival groups of coffee farmers engaged in a meeting called to discuss the way forward regarding the controversial Ksh 66 million loan facility guaranteed by The direction.

Police struggled to control the accused groups who clashed in a shouting match and the meeting and voting exercise ended abruptly as the situation began to escalate into a physical brawl.

The meeting had been called by the Cooperative Development Branch to allow divided farmers to vote on whether to conduct an investigation into the disputed loan and management financial dealings that some of the farmers objected to.

Management, in its investigation through the Auditor General, had uncovered minor misconduct on the part of the management team, including the unavailability of certain financial documents, the absence of an inventory of the assets of the company and the minutes sanctioning the taking out of the loan.

The office recommended that management may continue to perform its duties subject to proper disclosure of its financial dealings and making the necessary amends.

However, not all farmers agreed with the recommendation issued in December last year, with some demanding a forensic audit of the company, prompting management to call a meeting for farmers to vote. to break the deadlock.

The management team have been accused of taking the loan facility without the express permission of the members, the majority of whom claim it ended up in their pockets at the expense of poor farmers who had to bear the burden of the repayment.

“We have totally lost faith in our management and we oppose the proposal that they continue to perform their duties with the aim of making amends,” farmer Joseph Kanyi said, insisting that they do not Were not going to settle for a forensic audit.

He continued: “We want to know who approved the loan because the majority of us weren’t part of the arrangement and how the money was spent.”

They called on CS Agriculture Peter Munya to step in to resolve the crisis to restore farmers’ confidence.

Another farmer opposed to the investigation, Benson Mucangi, said the management team should be allowed to complete their term which ends in September this year to avoid jeopardizing their current crop.

“What will happen to the coffee we have so far delivered to the company which is in the hands of the current management team?” asked the farmer.

Beleaguered company chairman John Muruku has cleared his team of any wrongdoing, saying no loans can be taken out without the consent of the farmers who hold “supreme authority” in all decision-making.

He said the Auditor General’s report gave the company a clean bill of health, noting that the heat came from a section of farmers determined to bring the company down.

“We have an open door policy and anyone with concerns is free to come and ask us and will get the right facts,” the president said.