As previously reported, Kenyan coffee farmers are seeking help to protect their crops from theft. The coffee harvest period is from November to February, which is a vulnerable time for the farmers.
Coffee farmers in Rachuonyo County operating under Orinde Farmers’ Co-operative Society reported 63 50kgs bags of dry coffee beans being stolen with a sale value of approximately $25,000 US dollars (2.7 million Kenyan Shilling).
According to the society’s chair, the incident happened on 2, November at around 1am at a location where the farmers prepared the coffee for transportation to Eldoret town for milling at a store in Kakelo Dudi village.
Reportedly that the gang ambushed the security guard who was watching the store, and tied his hands before hitting him with a blunt object on the head. The gang then loaded the bags of coffee beans into a vehicle and made their get-away.
There is some uncertainty how the security guard managed to get free, however they were able to raise the alarm after the thieves had left.
Confirming the incident, Rachuonyo East Deputy County Commissioner Kiprotich Too said, officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations have already launched a probe into the heist.
Kiprotoch says initial investigations point to a possible inside job due to the vast knowledge the criminals had about the readiness of the crop for transportation.
If true, it presents another challenge for Kenyan farmers to take into account. Not only must they defend their from external threats of gangs, but to also be prepared that some people working internally are collaborating with the thieves.
It is unlikely the farmers will be reimbursed for the stolen coffee, since the crop cannot be insured. The loss will be a significant blow to small coffee farms and their livelihoods and comes on the heels of bad publicity over the use of chemicals in Kenya coffee, causing some shipments to be rejected in Japan and Kenya as we reported here.