Moses Kuria, the Gatundu South Member of Parliament has said he will take a proposed law to parliament that seeks to ban exports of unprocessed coffee to boost farmers’ earnings.
The East African nation is a small producer of the crop, accounting for about 1 percent of annual global output, but its top quality Arabica beans are sought after by global roasters who use them to blend with other varieties.
Raw coffee beans, which are Kenya’s fifth biggest source of hard currency, are usually sold at a weekly auction in Nairobi or directly to buyers abroad who then roast, package and sell them at a hefty premium.
Coffee exports earned $214 million in the year to March.
Moses Kuria, of the ruling Jubilee party, said some countries are importing raw Kenyan coffee, processing it and re-exporting it back to Kenya for sale at the expense of farmers who “do not reap maximum benefits from their produce”.
He said his new bill will prohibit the export of raw coffee in any form.
“I am ... introducing a bill in the national assembly to provide that coffee be exported only in processed form having been roasted, milled, packed and branded, clearly labelled with a “Made in Kenya” inscription,” Kuria said in a letter to the speaker of parliament seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Mwangi Kiunjuri, the minister for agriculture, said the government would study the proposed bill to decide whether it will support it. He added that farmers were suffering.
“They are not getting the benefits that they are supposed to accrue from sales of coffee. We need to discuss the way forward,” he told Reuters.
The government had formed a team to look at various ways of helping coffee farmers earn more and increase production, he said.
Kenya’s coffee output peaked at 129,000 tonnes in 1988/89, but has since dropped steadily due to poor management and global price swings. Farmers have switched crops or sold their land.
Kenya’s harvest fell 12 percent in the 2016/17 season to 40,700 tonnes, according to government data.