Nyeri MCAs cast doubts on US coffee dealer’s ability

Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua (left) and US coffee investor Timothy O’Brien with a farmer during a three-day tour of coffee factories in the Mathira sub-county on Tuesday.

NYERI COUNTY: A US coffee dealer’s visit to Nyeri has kicked off a storm with Members of the County Assembly casting aspersions on the marketer.

The members who are questioning the credibility of Tim O’Brien Wednesday asked the Executive Member for Agriculture Shadrack Mubea to explain if the county had conducted a survey before inviting him to Kenya.

O’Brien, who is listed as manager and partner of Green Coffee Vault in the US, has been in the country since last Thursday and has been meeting coffee farmers from different factories as the county seeks to market its produce directly. At a stormy session yesterday, members of the parliamentary committee on agriculture questioned Mubea on whether proper research had been done on the company that the county government was seeking to partner with.

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The meeting ended prematurely as the members sent Mubea away telling him to get “proper documents and give satisfactory answers”. Mubea told the House that the marketing of Nyeri coffee was competitive and the government was still looking for more potential marketers.

He stated that O’Brien was just one of the potential buyers identified so far. The Agriculture official pointed out that the county government has appointed Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters (KCCE) as the marketing agent, while the committee said KCCE was a non-performing company in the coffee business. According to O’Brien’s LinkedIn account, his specialties include “exporting and locating the best coffees.”

“I have worked side by side with the best coffee growers and micro-mills in Costa Rica and many other countries. Sustainable agriculture specialist, coffee hunter and cupper. Started my own boutique coffee micro-mill and social project from scratch and now sells to top roasters,” the information shows. Members of the committee questioned the ability, credibility and capacity of the Green Coffee Vault Company, registered in Missouri. According to a document that members used to question Mubea, the company is said to have been registered in April 2013, just some 11 months ago.

Members said there are also 12 other companies that have similar address matching the 3412Ne 48th street Kansas City, MO64119, which is registered to an agent-Paris, Antony S. The Standard’s search on the Internet gave similar details.

The committee chairman Kibera Ngunyi said O’Brien and his company could not be entrusted with the farmers’ coffee and have serious credibility issues, which must be addressed first. Another committee member, Jesse Mwangi, told Mubea that the company could not be entrusted with the marketing of coffee worth billions of shillings. He said the committee had noticed that the company was registered in April 2013, had no credible address, adding that there are about 12 companies registered in the same address.

Mwangi also said O’Brien, through assistance of the county government, has been holding meetings with coffee farmers across Nyeri convincing them that the company was capable of buying their parchments at better prices. He said during the visits, the dealer promised to buy a kilogramme of coffee at a minimum cost of Sh80, a pledge that the committee described as misleading.



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