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Farmers want government to reduce exportation of unprocessed coffee

By Nathan Ochunge | Published Wed, July 26th 2017 at 00:00, Updated July 25th 2017 at 23:49 GMT +3
(Photo: Courtesy)

Coffee farmers in western Kenya have asked the Government to reduce exportation of unprocessed coffee.

The farmers want the Government to focus on processing and branding produce to increase earnings.

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

Led by Eleven Ninety One Coffee Estates chairman Musikari Kombo, the farmers urged the Government to look for a ready market for the country's processed coffee instead of taking the produce to the Mombasa auction. They accused brokers of contributing to the collapse of coffee factories in the region.

"The coffee auction is run by private firms at the port of Mombasa on Tuesday of every week and farmers do not have knowledge of the existing coffee prices. The firms then export our coffee and they get high profit margins at the expense of coffee farmers, who get peanuts," said the former Webuye MP.

Speaking at his coffee farm in Tongaren, Bungoma, Mr Kombo said the western region is becoming the new frontier in coffee production after the central region.

He said farmers in central Kenya uprooted their coffee bushes after incurring huge losses and resorted to real estate, adding that the western region is the only saviour of the country's coffee production. He urged the Government to give incentives to farmers to boost their morale.

"Coffee factories pay farmers poorly, at about Sh28 per kilogramme, a matter that has seen most farmers resort to selling their produce to brokers from Uganda who pay Sh100 per kilogramme," Kombo said.

He also called for the writing off of coffee societies' bad debts to boost farming of the cash crop.

He noted that Kenya loses a lot by selling raw coffee to outside markets. Brazil buys coffee from Kenya and then blends it with cheap coffee from Uganda and after processing it, they sell it again at a higher price.

Kombo has 30 acres of coffee whereas Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, has 50 acres and both belong to Makhanga Cooperative Society. There are 393 coffee farmers from Bungoma North sub-county.

Lukhokwe Coffee Estate Managing Director Dorcas Kombo termed coffee 'black gold' with the potential to turn around Kenya's economy. She asked the Government to encourage more Bungoma farmers to grow the crop.

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