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KENYA: How Smallholder Producers Trapped into Coffee Farming

By Odhiambo Levin Opiyo

In the photo looking at the monument were ,Chief Ephentus Njage the Chairman of the union in 1961 and the Secretary Mr Gerishom Mbogo ( Right).

The memorial was erected at Ngandori in Embu in honour of Chief Njage Muthang'ato who persuaded his people to plant Coffee in 1930.

Chief Muthang'ato started by throwing free beer parties for his people in order to entice them into planting coffee, which was a new crop.

This was after efforts by the Agricultural Department to indroduce the cash crop in Embu were strongly resisted by the locals .

In 1946 , after many years of steady progress, Chief Muthang'ato mobilised his people to form the Ngandori Coffee Co-operative Union which had only 81 members at the time of its inception.

By 1960 , Ngandori Coffee Co-operative Union , had become the most progressive Union in Kenya with a membership of 3,772.It built five modern coffee factories worth £76,000 and two large nuseries.

In 1961 the Union marketed 496 tons of clean coffee worth £200,000.

Today Embu County is one of the leading coffee producers among the counties of Kenya.

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