Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has announced plans to start selling coffee directly to the American market.
Waiguru said her government had struck a deal with a New York-based firm that will be directly sourcing the commodity from farmers, flying out up to four tonnes per week.
The direct sales are expected to fetch an average of Sh120 per kilogramme.
“The first-ever Kirinyaga Coffee House will be officially opened in New York on March 16 where our coffee will now be exposed to international consumers, ”she said.
Waiguru, who was addressing the ongoing sixth devolution conference at Kirinyaga University grounds yesterday, said the deal would spur rapid economic growth in the county and improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers.
“If we succeed in this, our farmers will now have struck a gold mine, their many years of hard work will be handsomely paid through this new found arrangement,” she said.
She told delegates that coffee from the county had been ranked among the best by the International Coffee Review, the world’s leading experts in coffee marketing and promotion.
She said the organisation ranked two coffee cooperative societies in the county: Baragwe and Kabare as number 4 and 24 respectively in the world in producing top quality coffee.
Kiangoi Coffee Factory recently won the International Taste Award competition held in Rwanda.
Other than coffee, the governor told the delegates that the county is the largest tomato producer in the country, producing up to 54,000 tonnes per year.
“Since most of this commodity goes to waste due to lack of market and overproduction, our development partners have agreed to assist us put up a processing factory within Kangai Ward where youths from the area will be given first priority in jobs," she said.
The county is also a leading producer of rice. According to the governor, rice husks, which have for long been going to waste, are now being used to make hardboard using new technology.
“This development will certainly add some extra earnings for rice farmers who have, since the inception of the vast Mwea Irrigation Scheme, viewed the husks as a menace to the them,” she said.
Waiguru said the county's development model was people-driven through public participation.
“This model of development is working, although faced with some teething challenges which we are tirelessly trying to overcome through public-private sector partnership for the good of our people," she said.
She said a CT scan machine had been installed at the Kerugoya County Referral Hospital courtesy of devolution, thereby saving patients the agony of travelling to Kenyatta National Hospital.
The conference continues this morning with more speakers slated to address the delegates.