Small Enterprise

Coffee society ventures into new international markets

A Nyeri farmer dries coffee beans. A cooperative society in Othaya has secured a deal that allows farmers to sell directly  to four countries. Photo/JOSEPH KANYI
A Nyeri farmer dries coffee beans. A cooperative society in Othaya has secured a deal that allows farmers to sell directly to four countries. Photo/JOSEPH KANYI  

A coffee cooperative society in Othaya, Central Kenya, has identified four new markets for its produce.

With the help of Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters, Othaya Coffee Farmers Cooperative Society will sell its produce directly to the United States, Switzerland, Korea and Norway.

Society chairman Newton Nderitu said the deal, sealed late last year, was made possible by the fact that farmers had adopted the growing of high quality crops.

He said the farmers had started exporting some of its produce to the four countries already.

“This is a great step we have made and from it we expect to yield good returns that will motivate our farmers to put more efforts in coffee trading which had declined drastically a few years ago,” he said.

Mr Nderitu, addressing coffee farmers during an annual general meeting in Othaya recently, said that the society faces the problem of low production. He urged farmers to work hard and increase production to satisfy the growing demand for coffee.

Last year production stood at 1.7 million kilogrammes, a decrease from the previous year’s yield attributed to bad weather.

Mr Nderitu said that a few farmers neglected their bushes, while coffee wars which emanated from millers led to hundreds of kilogrammes of the harvest getting spoilt after police intercepted some farmers who were hawking their crop.

“Despite all these factors, farmers were paid Sh15 per kilogramme, but with these new markets they will be able to earn more,” said Mr Nderitu.

He said that other countries such as China, France, and Germany had expressed interest in buying coffee directly but shortage of the crop made cutting deals with them impossible.

“Many countries which are big consumers of the beverage have realised that we are producing high quality coffee. Its now up to us farmers to produce more coffee that is still of good quality,” said Mr Nderitu,

Apart from venturing into new markets, the society is in the process of computerising its 19 coffee factories by the end of this year. Once the process is completed, members will be served at their various factories instead of travelling long distances to the headquarters in Othaya town.

The move, said Mr Nderitu, will reduce the burden on many farmers who have to walk long distances to access services.