Coffee farmers plan share sale to upgrade mill

A farmers’ society in Nyeri County is set to float one million shares to improve its coffee milling facility.

Othaya Farmers’ Co-operative Society is selling the shares at Sh20 each to more than 15,000 members.

Chairman Newton Nderitu Tuesday said that farmers had agreed to buy the shares.

“We want to improve capacity of our society coffee mill,” he said.

The co-operative society acquired the Othaya Coffee Mill in 2009 and started operations in June 2010 as a private factory jointly owned by the members and the society.  

Mr Nderitu said that the acquisition of the mill gave society members control over their coffee, a key step towards value addition.

The factory has been earmarked by the Nyeri County government as an alternative milling plant to complement the Kenya Planters Co-operative Union in Sagana, which is currently leased to Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters Mills.

“Sagana mill has the state-of-the-art facilities to mill coffee from Nyeri. It is therefore strongly recommended that the county utilises such facilities in the meantime before the facility in Othaya is upgraded or another mill is put up in the county,” said a report by a task force released mid last year.

In its report, the county task force on coffee had recommended expansion of Othaya Coffee mill at a cost of Sh8 million to include provision of a huller with a bigger capacity and polisher, warehouses, bigger office and weigh bridge.

Currently, the mill has a capacity of one tonne per hour with a laboratory and roasting house. Other facilities include a warehouse with a capacity of 1,000 bags and a semi-permanent store with a capacity of 2,000 bags.

However, the society in partnership with Danish International Development Agency, Peter Larsen Company, Just Fair Company and Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters plans to spend Sh100 million to upgrade the mill in three years.

Othaya farmers are expected to contribute Sh16 million to the project. 

“We have agreed with our farmers to produce quality coffee and increase our quantities,” he said adding that they had acquired new direct buyers from Korea, the US, Denmark and Switzerland.