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Nairobi water tunnel ‘threatens’ 43 acres of Murang’a coffee

Building of a water tunnel in Murang’a County will claim 43 acres of land under coffee farming by December 2019, says area coffee advisory department.

The Northern Water Collector Tunnel is set to collect waters from rivers Irati, Mathioya and Gikigie and run it through Kangema, Mathioya, Maragua, Kigumo and Gatanga connecting to Ndakaini Dam that supplies Nairobi.

Area coffee advisory officer, Paul Mutua, in his October report to the Agricultural Food Authority (AFA), says the excavation works in the building of the tunnel will “uproot more acres of coffee bushes, hence fronting more challenges in revitalisation programmes aimed at maximising coffee production.”

He said the sector had by close of last year lost 710 acres of coffee farming to other sectors, including construction and horticulture, dealing coffee farming a blow.

COFFEE DOOM

This spells doom for efforts to reclaim the County’s 1980s coffee glory where it used to produce 80 percent of national production.

Mr Mutua said “although the farmers whose coffee bushes will be uprooted will be compensated, more creative approach is required to entice area farmers back to coffee farming.”

He said many farmers were reluctant to tend to their coffee bushes. and “not many new farmers are willing to be recruited into coffee farming, citing delayed and poor payments, lack of clearly spelt out policies to govern the sector and three-month maturity cash crops attracting them more than coffee,” he said.

It is projected that by year 2022, coffee farmers will have gone down from the current 70,000 farmers in the County to below 40,000.

Area governor Mwangi wa Iria has set aside Sh1.3 billion to rejuvenate coffee farming that he says has exposed farmers to low earnings due to low quality production that leads to poor prices.