NAIROBI-Nakuru former Governor Lee Kinyanjui has said coffee sector reforms should prioritsse value-addition which includes processing, packaging, and branding the cash crop, reports Coop News.
Kenya exports over 98 percent of its coffee, and the governor said it should be aggressively promoted, noting that it is of high quality and in high demand globally.
He said value addition would boost local consumption and high earnings for farmers.
“Ethiopia consumes about 50 percent of its locally produced coffee. In the event that international coffee prices decline, farmers are cautioned.”
He recently launched the distribution of 75,000 kilograms of biofertilizer to farmers in the county to boost production.
According to him, the coffee subsector has the potential to create job opportunities noting that farmers can earn up to Ksh1,000 (10 dollars) per kilogram due to its high quality.
“We need to draw references to the tourism sector where over-dependence on foreign markets almost killed our tourism industry. We must consume our products.”
“Value addition to coffee would add a percentage of increased financial value to the product and will have the effect of improving the incomes of the local farmers,” he said.
According to the Food Agriculture Organisation, the full potential of agriculture in terms of economic benefits is mainly hidden in the value addition. The World Bank has projected that by 2030, the size of Africa’s food and agribusiness industry will reach USD1 trillion, boosted by value addition to the food-related produce.
Kinyanjui noted there is growing popularity of the café culture among youth, and demand for locally roasted and brewed coffee will increase, reducing dependence on the international market.
Nakuru is revamping the coffee sub-sector with the county government distributing over 40,000 seedlings worth Ksh6 million, water tanks each with a capacity of 10,000 litres to Mutungati Coffee Farmers Cooperative in Bahati Sub-County.
The latest International Coffee Organisation report indicated that Kenyan coffee has high demand attracting high prices in the global market.
“Our plan is to double coffee production in Nakuru in the next four years. We will set up a financial grant for the seven coffee co-operatives to increase production. The county through Nakuru Coffee Forum is now working with several agro-chemical companies and seven coffee farmers’ co-operatives including Kiremba, Solai, Mandizi, Mutungati, Wikurie, Demu and Jumatatu,” the former Governor said.
In addition, through a partnership with the Kenya Coffee Platform Association [KCPA], the county tested soil samples of 1,200 coffee farms in Bahati and Subukia sub-counties and handed the results to farmers.
The Ministry of Agriculture has raised the alarm over declining coffee production from an all-time high of 128,862 tonnes in 1987/88 to the lowest production of 38,620 tonnes in 2016/17. The worrying trend comes at a time when demand from the international market is on the rise.
Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that the country is facing a huge decline in coffee production from about 160,000 hectares to the current 114,000 hectares.
Meanwhile, milk production in Nakuru has increased in the past four years due to smallholder farmers’ adoption of good agricultural practices and increased investments in milk collection and cooling infrastructure.
Kinyanjui said implementation of the Sh 570 million Nakuru County Dairy Value Chain Strategic Plan [NCDVCSP] and support from the National Government’s Agriculture Sector Development Support Programme Phase Two [ASDSP II] had transformed many smallholder farms in the region into profitable ventures with farmers reaping the benefits of embracing new dairy technologies.
“Nakuru County now produces an average of 300 million litres of milk annually, an improvement of over 25 per cent since 2019 making it the third leading devolved unit in milk production in the country with 381,600 dairy cattle after Kiambu and Murang’a counties,” he said.
Dairy farmers in Nakuru earned Ksh 11.7 billion from the sale of milk last year, with exotic breeds accounting for 60 per cent of milk production and indigenous ones 40 percent.
“Farmers have been upgrading their local breeds through artificial insemination with support from both levels of government and other stakeholders. Over 6,000 farmers have used superior semen from approved bulls to serve cows so that the subsequent generation is improved to pedigree breed.”
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