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Commodities

Raw coffee export ban bid to boost earnings

coffee beans
A farmer picks ripe coffee beans in Nyeri. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria is set to introduce in Parliament a proposed law seeking to ban export of raw coffee in a a bid to boost farmers’ earnings.

The bill, if passed into law, will ensure the cash crop is exported only in processed or roasted form, milled, parked and branded, clearly labelled with ‘a made in Kenya’ inscription.

“I am desirous of introducing a Bill in the National Assembly to provide that coffee be exported only in processed form. The bill does not affect the functions of the county governments and is therefore a bill concerning the counties for the purpose of Standing Orders,” he said.

Kenyan coffee is normally roasted and packed abroad, and then resold at more than triple the price of unprocessed beans.

As a result, the much sought-after premium coffee used for blending lower quality beans from elsewhere in the world earns farmers much less than it should.

However, the plan may be impractical as Kenya would have to create a whole new market for its coffee away from major global blenders.

Coffee farming contributes to about six per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), with European countries, the US and Saudi Arabia being major markets.

A market report by Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) indicates that earnings dropped from Sh5.5 billion ($55) million in October last year to Sh4.7 billion ($47 million) in the four months to January as low international prices affected local sales.

The low price was caused by international prices plummeting to the lowest level in two years from as high of 150 cents per pound to the current 120 cents.

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