Coffee growing counties to conduct bushes count

A coffee farmer picking ripe beans. FILE PHOTO
A coffee farmer picking ripe beans. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The national government will help counties in coffee growing zones to conduct a physical county of coffee bushes, and carry out soil analysis in the regions, as drive to improve the crop takes shape.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Njeru Ndwiga said the two governments have already rolled out the exercise in Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties, while the same will be launched in Embu this weekend.

Speaking in Embu town, Mr Ndwiga said the sampling of soils by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives together with respective counties will determine the right fertilizer, as the government prepares to disburse Sh1.5billion subsidy.

During the period, farmers will give views on the coffee taskforce report so as to give recommendations before it is operationalised.

The Embu Senator said they were concerned by the low volumes of coffee produced in the country, mainly due to application of wrong fertilizer and poor husbandry.


He said the production had dipped to about 44,000 metric tonnes down from an all time high of close to 170,000 metric tonnes and there was a need to improve production.

“Our current concern is not market but production. Currently we can’t claim to be a major coffee player. We have the best coffee in the world but income from it is dwindling due to low production,” said Mr Ndwiga.

The senator who was accompanied by Embu Governor Martin Wambora said the fertilizer would be distributed to individual farmers according to their soil type.

He said the two governments were also conducting a count of the existing coffee trees and their production in the counties, and will use the figures to dissolve or merge underperforming cooperatives.

Mr Wambora said the county will this year start processing and packaging its own branded coffee, tea, milk and macadamia produce to help farmers earn more.

He said he had already secured market for coffee in Saudi Arabia and America and now farmers were guaranteed of at least Sh100 per kilo.

He said the county will start processing and selling its coffee at the county mill situated at Kavutiri, from where they will process and sell clean coffee thus evading brokers at the auction.

Mr Wambora said the county had already hosted 33 international coffee buyers representing eight countries in a move aimed at bringing on board investors involved in various value addition chains.

He said he would be attending the international coffee organization conference representing Kenya, where he will root for the local coffee given prominence, ahead of that from Colombia and Jamaica.

“Our coffee will no longer be sold as a commodity but as a specialty. Jamaican and Colombia coffee fetch the best prices because their marketing is better. These other countries are earning more money yet their coffee is inferior to ours,” Mr Wambora said.