President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the government is aggressively marketing globally to increase Kenya’s coffee market share in Europe, USA and the emerging Asian markets. Speaking at the 124th session of the International Coffee Organization’s Council at KICC, President Kenyatta said the status of coffee in Kenya is strong, and that despite the challenges facing the sector, Kenya’s coffee still has a strong standing in the market due to its high quality. The global coffee trade has become more prominent, but as a region, Sub Saharan Africa hasn’t enjoyed its boom, “It’s notable that between 1990 and the year 2016, Africa’s share of the total value of coffee’s global exports fell from 21% in 1990 to only 9.4% in the year 2016.”
He said in Kenya, the sector has experienced some challenges, with the production levels falling from 130,000 metric tonnes in the 88/89 crop year, to a low of about 40,000 metric tonnes presently. Moreover, he said the premium prices of the quality coffee in Kenya don’t trickle down to the farmers who are mostly small scale producers.
He outlined steps taken by the government interventions intended to reverse the negative trends in the coffee sector, including the rehabilitation of 500 factories in 31 coffee growing Counties, rehabilitation and provision of planting material and advancement in research as well as extension services. In order to deal with coffee farmers’ payment problems, the government has set up a Kshs 3 billion cherry advanced revolving fund to be operational from July 1st this year, “Consequently, all coffee farmers across the country will be able to access the cherry advance at a modest interest rate of 3% per annum,” he said, among others.
He added that the methods and technologies adopted to improve the coffee sector prioritize environmentally sound cultivation, just labour conditions, fair remuneration and pricing which keep the current players but also opens doors for other stakeholders.
On his part, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kunjuri said the interventions the Ministry of Agriculture and Trade have began making are poised to make a turn around for the benefits of the farmers. He said the council meetings held will help to assess issue including the coffee international markets.
Coffee farming in Kenya supports a lot of households, with coffee growing areas strewn across the Mt Kenya region, Western Kenya including in Bungoma, Mt. Elgon areas and in parts of Rift Valley including Nandi Hills among other places.