The government is carrying out trials in three coffee-growing counties to improve production
Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri said the trials are being carried out in Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Meru counties.
The CS said the government’s aim is to boost production by almost five-fold. Kiunjuri said the government plans to give out subsidised fertiliser to farmers.
Counties are expected to give lime to farmers to balance soil pH.
Nyeri and Kirinyaga have already bought 100,000 bags of lime each, while Meru has bought 120,000 bags, the CS told journalists in Nyeri on Saturday.
“What we expect as a government is that for every one bag of lime, the farmer should use two bags of fertiliser, which will be given at a subsidised price,” he said.
The CS said fertiliser is being sent to Karatina, Kiganjo, Sagana and Meru stores so that in three weeks after applying the lime, farmers can apply fertiliser.
“If the farmers apply lime and fertiliser properly, we expect that a bush that produces only two kilos will yield 10kgs,” Kiunjuri said. He said farmers will be given other incentives to improve production.
In July, Nyeri Agriculture executive Henry Kinyua said the government had a lime-application programme to lower the acidity of soils and improve coffee production.
He said the government was also promoting bulk purchase of farm inputs by cooperative societies. Other interventions included formation of coffee farmers’ field schools. Farmers were trained on coffee farming and collaborating with other stakeholders to improve farming practices.
The average production per coffee bush is approximately three kilogrammes, which is too low in comparison to the potential of 30kg per bush. “Coffee is a critical economic driver for Nyeri towards improvement of livelihoods through income generation, employment creation and enhanced access to food security,” he said.
Kinyua said coffee has always been rated highly as an enterprise both for income and food security despite the current low productivity. He said the government is also supporting cooperative societies.
In Nyeri coffee farming is practiced by both large- and small-scale farmers. There are about 161 large-scale producers and approximately 90,000 small-scale coffee producers in the county.
The small-scale farmers are organised into cooperative societies for processing and marketing of their produce.