Government set to revive coffee industry
The Coffee industry in Kenya continues to face a number of challenges that have adversely affected coffee production and eroded farmer benefits.
The situation has thereby enhanced poverty, food insecurity and unemployment in the once wealthy and prosperous sub sector in rapidly changing rural sector.
Because of this, the National Government and Counties will in the next three years mobilize Sh.7.5 billion to fund the revival of the coffee subsector.
The Coffee Subsector Implementation Committee (CSIC) appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2016 says the money will help to address gaps along the value chain.
Speaking at Coffee Research Institute (CRI) Headquarters, Jacaranda in Ruiru on Friday, during the 3rd National Coffee Conference and Ruiru Coffee Fair 2018 the Committee Chairman, Joseph Kieyah, stated that finance is one of the key components of the new reforms being fast tracked by the National Government and County Governments.
“Our worry in the Sub-Sector is the declining production and lack of morale among the farmers. As a Committee we are in the process of implementing a roadmap and action plan for the revival of the Coffee Sub-sector that prioritizes production, marketing and value addition,” said Professor Kieyah.
“We are reaching out to all the value chain players to guarantee amicable consensus on the implementation of the new reforms.” he added.
Two weeks ago the Committee hosted Governors from 31 coffee growing counties who agreed to support the coffee reform agenda.
The Implementation Committee was created in 2016 to co-ordinate and provides strategic leadership in implementation of the coffee reforms among other duties.
Kieyah explained that of the expected money, the National Government will provide Sh.4.4 billion in the 2018/19 financial year while counties in their agriculture budgets will be required to factor in Sh.3.1 billion each for the next three years. For the counties this is over and above providing extension services.
The Chairman further explained that Sh.758.4 million and Sh.150 million will be committed to finance fertilizer subsidy, planting materials and training respectively.
Rehabilitation of pulping stations will cost about Sh.200 million and a similar amount for capacity building.
“Farmers will benefit from cherry advance of Sh.2.1 billion while modernization of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) is expected to consume Sh.203.5 million, institutional support (Sh.350 million) and Sh.200 million will be allocated to brand Kenyan coffee for it to be more competitive at the international market,” said Prof. Kieyah.
The CRI Director, Elijah Gichuru, assured that the institute is working with counties and other value chain players to provide adequate planting materials to farmers in order to increase production.
“Last year we concluded a Sh.277 million grant five year European Union (EU) project -Coffee Productivity Project (CPP) to finance decentralization of coffee research activities in order 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 he added are resistant to the coffee berry and leaf rust diseases and can grow at many ecological zones, noting that under the project CRI contracted 28 coffee societies in 14 coffee growing counties to produce seedlings and sell to farmers at subsidized prices.
Kiambu County Deputy Governor and a farmer, James Nyoro, recalled the glorious moment’s coffee farmers enjoyed between 1960s and 1980s with high production and good prices, saying the sub-sector is in a sorry state following a continued production decline which in 1987/88 coffee year reached a peak of 130,000 metric tonnes.
However, currently, production has been fluctuating at between 40,000 metric tonnes and 50,000 metric tonnes.
Nyoro gave an example of non-competitive milling and marketing systems that have removed coffee farmers from 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.
The Deputy Governor said the coffee growing counties fully support the new reforms being spearheaded by the National Government with a view to ensuring farmers earn high returns.
By Wangari Ndirangu