ENHANCED PRODUCTION

Relief for farmers as new fungicide to tackle coffee disease launched

Priaxor®225 EC is suited for coffee farmers as it disrupts fungal growth.

In Summary
  • Farmers will now access Priaxor®225 EC, a fungicide launched by BASF, one of the world’s leading chemical companies.
  • It has a long-lasting protection window of up to 28 days, reducing the overall number of fungicide applications and enhancing cost savings.
Farmer Samuel Kariuki at his coffee farm in Karuri village, Gatundu North. Image: John Kamau
Farmer Samuel Kariuki at his coffee farm in Karuri village, Gatundu North. Image: John Kamau

Coffee farmers can now breathe a sigh of relief after a new fungicide to tackle coffee berry disease was launched.

The disease can destroy up to 80 per cent of coffee berries if not stopped.

Farmers will now access Priaxor®225 EC, a fungicide launched by BASF, one of the world’s leading chemical companies.

Priaxor®225 EC is suited for coffee farmers as it disrupts fungal growth.

It has a long-lasting protection window of up to 28 days, reducing the overall number of fungicide applications and enhancing cost savings, the manufacturer says

“BASF is committed to playing an active role in supporting coffee farmers with sustainable agricultural solutions and being a part of the solution in addressing their challenges. Thousands of farmers in Kenya will now have access to an innovative crop protection solution that will assist them to improve their yields and hence run successful coffee farming businesses, improving their livelihoods,” said Shollay Ramlaul, Country Cluster Head BASF East Africa.

Ramlaul said BASF’s knowledge in chemistry continues to benefit growers in agriculture sustainably by providing highly effective herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.

“Priaxor®225 EC is a very good example that will offer coffee farmers the latest technology in coffee berry disease control,” she said.

“BASF recognises the importance of making a significant contribution to improving crop yield in this important market. We leverage on our expertise in research and strong local competency, and proactively support our growers in driving the growth of the agricultural sector by unveiling highly effective crop protection solutions,” Ramlaul added.

The launch of Priaxor®225 EC is aligned with the BASF agricultural division’s strategy and focus on the customer and societal needs.

The director of crops with the Ministry of Agriculture Douglas Kangi attended the launch on Friday at Windsor Hotel.

The New Kenya Planters Co-operative Union acting managing director Timothy Mirugi was also present.

Kangi said the coffee subsector contributes 0.1 per cent to the GDP.

He said coffee is grown in 33 countries by an estimated 800,000 smallholder growers and 3,000 coffee estates with a total area of 119,675 hectares (295,722.90875 acres) being dedicated to coffee production.

Kangi said there was high production of coffee in 1987-88 when 129, 637 metric tonnes were produced.

The subsector has however encountered challenges, resulting in a significant drop in production and earnings.

This, Kangi said, has pushed the coffee industry from the prestigious number one foreign exchange earner to the fourth position after tea, tourism, and horticulture.

Today, coffee production has averaged 40,000 metric tonnes per year.

The production has dropped from a high of 6kg per tree in 1988 to the current 2kg.

The top five counties where coffee is grown are Kiambu (20 per cent), Kirinyaga (15), Murang’a (13), Nyeri (11) and Embu (7). The five account for 66 per cent of national production.

There are 20 active coffee processors and 120 cooperative societies.

In 2020, the total exports were 46, 332 metric tonnes, bringing total earning of Sh22.02 billion.

The top five export markets are the US (20 per cent), Germany and Belgium (17) and South Korea at nine per cent.

The challenges facing the subsector include perennial price volatility, obsolete coffee processing technology, inadequate extension services and high cost of production.

Kangi said the payments in the years 2019-2020 registered a remarkable improvement with Kirinyaga leading. Many factories made payments of over Sh100 per kilo of cherry with the highest payment being Sh118.60.

The director decried the rate at which coffee farms were being turned into real estate, saying the ongoing reforms might help turn the tide.

“The key reforms in coffee subsector include rollout of World Bank-funded coffee revitalisation programme, E-voucher input subsidy programme, review of legislation, and promotion of Kenyan coffee in export market destination,” he said.

Kangi said the New KPCU established in 2019 with a fund of Sh 2.7 billion for purposes of cherry revolving fund already has Sh172,118,983, and 15,639 farmers from 14 counties have benefitted from the fund.

In October 2020, the government announced Sh1 billion to be used to provide a farm inputs subsidy programme to reduce production cost.

Edited by Henry Makori