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February 22, 2019

Billions needed to revive Kenya’s coffee industry

A worker sorts coff ee berries at a factory in Kienjege, Kirinyaga county, on July 24, 2014. Kenya is a relatively small producer of coff ee, but its beans are much sought after by roasters to blend with those of lower quality from other producing countries. /REUTERS
A worker sorts coff ee berries at a factory in Kienjege, Kirinyaga county, on July 24, 2014. Kenya is a relatively small producer of coff ee, but its beans are much sought after by roasters to blend with those of lower quality from other producing countries. /REUTERS

The coffee industry needs some Sh7.5 billion injection to fund revival of the once glorious subsector. 

Coffee subsector implementation committee said the cash will address gaps along the industry's value chain.

committee chairman Joseph Kieyah last Friday said financing is one of the key components of the new reforms being fast tracked by both national and county governments. 

“Our worry is the declining production and lack of morale among the farmers. we are in the process of implementing a roadmap and an action plan that will prioritize on production, marketing and value addition,” said Kieyah.

 He added, “We are reaching out to all the value chain players to guarantee amicable consensus on the implementation of the new reforms.” Two weeks ago the committee hosted governors from 31 coffee growing counties who agreed to support the coffee reform agenda. 

He was at Coffee Research Institute in Ruiru at the third National Coffee Conference and Ruiru Coffee Fair 2018. 

The implementation committee was created in 2016 to coordinate and provide strategic leadership in implementation of the coffee reforms among other duties.

 Kieyah explained that of the expected money the national government will provide sh4.4 billion in the 2018/19 financial year while counties in their agriculture budgets will be required to factor in Sh3.1 billion each for the next three years. The counties will also provide extension services.

 He said that Sh758.4 million will be committed for fertilizer and planting materials while Sh150 million will go to training farmers. Rehabilitation of pulping stations will consume Sh200 million, and Sh200 million for capacity building.

 “Farmers will benefit from the Sh2.1 billion cherry advance while modernization of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange is expected to consume Sh203.5 million, institutional support -Sh350 million. A further sh200 million will be allocated to brand Kenyan coffee for more visibility in international markets,” Kieyah said.

CRI director Elijah Gichuru said the institute is working with counties and other value chain players to provide adequate planting materials to farmers to improve production.

“Last year we concluded a Sh277 million grant towards a five year European Union project -Coffee Productivity Project to finance decentralisation of coffee research activities," he said.

This will aid to maximize production of planting materials and enhance access to the farmers. About 60,000 smallholder farmers benefited with seedlings of new coffee varieties –Batian and Ruiru 11 and coffee farming increased by over 3,500 acres. The two varieties are resistant to the coffee berry and leaf rust diseases and can grow at ecological zones. Under the project CRI contracted 28 coffee societies in 14 coffee growing counties to produce seedlings and sell to farmers at subsidized prices.

currently, production of the bean has been oscillating at between 40,000 metric tonnes and 50,000 metric tonnes. noncompetitive milling and marketing systems have left coffee farmers with no control of their commodities and extremely poor, archaic and dilapidated coffee processing factories, lack of access of credit and other forms of working capital and generally poor and non-accountable management systems from the farm level to the markets and low value addition.

 Agricultural expert James Nyoro said coffee growing counties fully support the new reforms being spearheaded by the national government with a view to ensuring farmers earn high returns.

 

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