Nyeri farmers representatives on Friday exported the first batch of 300kilogrammes of processed coffee to be sold in 1,200 supermarkets in Europe.
Nyeri Co-operative Union Chairman Newton Nderitu, Aguthi Farmers chairman John Muchiri and Joseph Ngunjiri oversaw the flagging off at Africa Coffee Roasters' (ACR) Athi River facility where they were joined by the company’s managing director Mr Poul Videbaek and Head of Production Stephen Vick.
The two termed the partnership a success saying that farmers would now earn 212 per cent more than what they used to when they sold their coffee via the Nairobi Coffee Auction.
Mr Videbaek said that ACR which is a subsidiary of a Denmark Consumer Co-operative Society had invested over Sh400million to set up the plant which now has capacity to process and export 2,000tonnes of coffee per year.
“What we want is our consumers across Europe to enjoy their coffee knowing we are so close to the farmer that we directly pay them higher proceeds per kilogramme upon delivery unlike the traditional system where the have to wait for their coffee to be sold at the auction and wait for pto nine months,” said the MD.
Mr Nderitu said farmers had also received training on better farm husbandry from Dutch experts adding that payments were being made directly to farmers’ mobile phone money accounts with an annual bonus planned for the end of the year.
Mr Nderitu urged the government to wade into the coffee crisis and promote purchase of the coffee processing equipment saying while Kenya exported coffee most of its coffee in raw form, value addition would help create jobs and improve revenues paid to local investors.
With ACR, it is anticipated that coffee worth Sh 2billion will be exported in a year where a Sh100million will be spent on operational costs and salaries to the 40 fulltime employees as well as a further 75,000 jobs guaranteed across coffee fields in Nyeri’s rural areas.
The ACR facility’s electric coffee roaster, a coffee packing machine and a capsule machine are among the most modern equipment used in coffee processing business across Europe.
Mr Videbaek added that their co-operative society was also planning to introduce a tomato paste,fruit jam and avocado processing machines in Kenya saying they had since independence perfected their relationship with Kenyan producers and transporters which ensured their stores had fresh items grown in Kenya.
He said ACR would also engage coffee farmers to enhance planting organic coffee which is popular across Europe but hardly available in Kenya.This saw them source the same from Uganda,Tanzania,Rwanda,Ethiopia and DRC Congo.
The factory makes four types of coffee, Bla Cirkek Kaffe,Okologisk Bla Cirkek Kaffe,Mocca Bla Cirkek Kaffe and Kenya AA Espresso Bla Cirkek Kaffe.