Farmers to reap big in direct access to global market

Hundreds of smallholder coffee farmers in Kisii County will now sell their coffee directly to the global market.

The move will translate to the farmers who are under Gusii Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union (GCFU), bypassing the current rigorous coffee value chain intermediaries, leading to double earnings from their crop.

This comes even as a delegation from a South Korean coffee buying company Kang Sunggyu, visited the county to broker the cost of the valuable crop which authorities say will cause disconnection between international and local coffee auctions at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange.

Kisii Agriculture Executive, Esman Onsarigo, said the South Korean coffee buyer was identified by the county government as one of the companies that might receive direct sales.

He assured the buyer of quality coffee courtesy of collaboration between the county government and the local farmers’ union.

Coffee investor, Kang Sunggyu of Good Beans, said he was impressed with the coffee farmers in the county and assured them of good proceeds saying Korea was among the major consumers of coffee.

But the Union’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert Mainya, expressed fears they may not satisfy the buyer’s demands owing to the low quantities produced and the expected high demand.

Mainya, however, vowed to ensure farmers were empowered to produce enhanced and quality crop for the direct sale abroad.

Chairman Presidential Task Force on Coffee Sub-sector, Prof. Joseph Keyah, revealed that the buyer (Good Beans) had the capacity to purchase 172 metric tonnes of coffee with instant payments upon delivery by the farmers.

Farmers, who were previously excluded from attending price negotiation auctions will now produce, mill, negotiate and export the coffee to the international market but in adherence to existing Coffee Exchange regulations.

The coffee industry has been one of the key pillars of the country’s economic development for decades, contributing an annual average of US$230 million in foreign exchange earnings as Kenya’s third most important export commodity, after horticulture and tea.

However, this is a dismal performance according to Ministry of Agriculture top officials, and required urgent interventions to reverse the negative trend and ensure sustainability for the sector.

Addressing farmers during a coffee stimulus program sensitization forum in Kisii town, recently Agriculture CAS for Livestock and Fisheries Development, Lawrence Omuhaka, had said the Ministry had moved to revamp the industry, in a bid to raise the average national coffee production from 2kg to 5Kg per tree per year within the next three years, and raise the growers gross earnings by 50 percent per year.

Omuhaka, who was representing CS, Peter Munya then, had noted that the revitalization program sought to support production expansion, adoption of improved coffee varieties, increased use of affordable/subsidized farm inputs, and training of farmers on best agricultural practices.

This is bound to upscale production in Kisii which currently stands at 2.5 Kgs per tree to 4 Kgs with better agricultural methods, and motivation of farmers.

The government was targeting smallholder coffee farmers belonging to a cooperative society, small estate coffee farmers or any other farmers belonging to an association holding less than 20 acres of coffee in the deliberate move to liberate the Coffee farmers from private millers and the brokers who are believed to be blocking the government’s efforts to improve coffee sector.

There are 22 coffee societies and 72 factories in the Gusii Region that need to apply best farming practices to improve the quality of produce.

By Jane Naitore

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