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5 cartels giving DP Gachagua sleepless nights

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is battling cartels from different sectors of the country.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua speaking at Kaelo Methodist Church in Igembe, Meru County on October 1, 2023
  • DP Gachagua declares war against cartels
  • State-backed reforms
  • Challenges Gachagua has faced

Since assuming power alongside President William Ruto in 2022, DP Gachagua has been mandated to lead the charge against these different cartels, which has proved to be a hard task.

He has faced both hurdles and wins in equal measure but he often reiterates his commitment to squashing them.

Cartels in the agriculture sectors have had deep influence for decades, and have significantly influenced market dynamics, often at the expense of small-scale farmers and the broader populace.

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This battle against the cartels is about dismantling their operations and rectifying the economic, social, and political ramifications of their activities.

  1. Coffee cartels
  2. Tea cartels
  3. Milk cartels
  4. Alcohol cartels
  5. Drug & substance abuse cartels
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DP Gachagua has been at the forefront of the fight against coffee cartels to ensure coffee farmers receive fair compensation for their produce, thus improving their livelihoods and revitalising the coffee industry in Kenya.

In 2023, Rigathi claimed that his brother and former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua was killed by cartels who were against the reforms in the coffee sector.

To address these challenges, Gachagua convened a three-day coffee stakeholders' conference in Meru, which took place from June 6 to 8, 2023.

The conference aimed to bring together government officials, lawmakers, governors, coffee farmers, experts, and marketers to discuss and implement strategies to combat the influence of cartels and brokers​​.

He has taken steps to directly link farmers to consumers, bypassing the exploitative middlemen. This direct approach is expected to ensure that farmers benefit more from their labour​​.

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Plans include radical reforms in the Nairobi Coffee Exchange, Coffee Board of Kenya, and Coffee Research Institute to make them more effective and farmer-focused​​.

“Some major players in the sector who had been benefitting from overlaps boycotted the auctions resulting in depressed prices at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange and noticeable low volume of coffee offered by farmers for sale at the auction only to later troop back,” he said in January.

Despite the challenges, the Deputy President has vowed that the Kenya Kwanza government will not be intimidated by cartels and will continue to push for reforms in the coffee sector​​.

This resolve was symbolized by the reopening of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange, marking a significant step towards reviving the sector.

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Gachagua has been actively involved in reforming the tea sector in Kenya, with a focus on eliminating cartels and ensuring that small-scale tea farmers reap more benefits.

Meetings with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) directors have resulted in agreements to streamline the sector and increase earnings for farmers.

Gachagua has severally emphasised the need for cooperation between the government and KTDA to free the sector from exploitative forces and improve farmers' livelihoods​​​​.

A significant step includes subjecting KTDA directors to audits by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to ensure accountability and address allegations of resource mismanagement.

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Gachagua has underscored the importance of continuous engagement and service to the tea smallholders, which has led to improved bonuses for farmers, partially boosted by the weakening shilling against the dollar. Bonuses per kilo have increased, which signifies a positive trend in the sector​​.

The Tea Act 2020, sponsored by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot, is a comprehensive law aimed at reviving the sector, which had been frustrated by previous administrations.

Gachagua has committed to enforcing this Act and making amendments where necessary to address the current challenges and ensure that tea farmers can earn better​​.

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The implementation of tea sector reforms has been praised by Gachagua, who noted that within six months, there has been significant progress towards stabilizing the sector and putting more money in the pockets of farmers.

The cooperation of KTDA directors has been crucial to this success, with no resistance faced during the reform process. Bonuses for tea farmers have seen an increase, with some factories paying the highest rates, demonstrating the positive impact of these reforms​

Rigathi Gachagua has been championing milk farmers by spearheading reforms in the dairy sector, despite facing resistance from cartels.

He aims to eliminate middlemen to ensure farmers receive maximum benefits and dignity. Gachagua has assured farmers of clearing arrears owed to them by the government.

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Additionally, he has advocated for increasing milk prices in the coming months to benefit farmers.

"Starting today, March 1, New KCC will pay dairy farmers Sh50 per litre, up from Sh45, and the management must settle farmers' pending payments for the last three months by next week," he said.

DP Gachagua has been actively fighting against alcohol and drug abuse cartels in Kenya, focusing particularly on the Mt. Kenya region and extending efforts to the Coast.

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His initiatives aim to tackle the widespread issues of illicit brews and drug addiction, which have significant impacts on the youth and productive population of these areas.

Gachagua has warned those involved in the business of illicit brews that their operations will soon face stringent measures, as the government is set to enforce new strategies to combat these vices.

These efforts include planned national conferences to address alcohol and drug abuse comprehensively, reflecting the government's commitment to stamp out these issues​​​​.

In the Mt. Kenya region, Gachagua has taken a personal stance against alcoholism, recognizing it as a critical issue that requires immediate attention.

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He has expressed readiness to confront alcohol cartels, emphasizing that the fight against these "merchants of death" is paramount, even if it means risking his political popularity.

The region has seen efforts to reduce the number of bars and illegal distilleries, although challenges remain in fully implementing these directives due to legal and political obstacles​​.

Gachagua claims a 70% success rate in the fight against alcoholism in the region, highlighting the government's determination to eradicate illicit brews.

He has expressed disappointment in some leaders for not supporting the initiative, stressing the importance of collective action in this fight​​.

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The war on drug abuse in the Coast region is also a priority, with Gachagua affirming the government's readiness to eradicate drug abuse.

The Deputy President has emphasized collaboration with stakeholders to save the youth from substance abuse. The Coast region, being strategic to Kenya's economy, particularly with its potential for the Blue Economy, necessitates a healthy and productive population free from the clutches of drug abuse​​.

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