By Fredrick Obura and Reuters
Kenya has launched a brand for arabica coffee that will give it a distinct global identity and distinguish it from beans of other origins.
More than 95 per cent of Kenya coffee is exported as raw green beans without any identity.
"But, from now on it will bear a green logo with a silhouette of Mount Kenya and the words Coffee Kenya," the Coffee Board of Kenya said on Friday.
The country has an average annual output of 50,000 tonnes, but Kenyan coffee is popular with roasters who blend it with other beans. It is increasingly prized by high-end niche markets.
"People front coffee that is not Kenyan and call it Kenyan coffee," said Loise Njeru, chief executive at the regulatory board.
"For now, we want to give Kenyan coffee a face, because you walk anywhere in the world and find coffee called AA, it could be AA from anywhere," she added.
Neighbouring Ethiopia has obtained trademark rights for at least three of its coffee brands and signed agreements with scores of global companies to promote them.
Most of the best beans are grown on volcanic soils on foothills around the snow-peaked Mount Kenya at an altitude of between 1,400 and 2,100 metres above sea level.
Production in the Kenya has fallen over the years from an all-time peak of 130,000 tonnes in 1988/89 season due to mismanagement, indebtedness and bad returns.
The Government sought to reform the sector by liberalising marketing and milling and took over Sh3.2 billion owed by farmers in 2001.