Fresh breath in factories as coffee production increases

Amica Saving and Credit Chairman Hiram Mwaniki with one of the 300 title deeds that were released last year. They were part of securities farmers had deposited to access loans. [Boniface Gikandi/Standard]

Coffee production has risen sharply in central Kenya following the writing off of loans owed by farmers.

In the past five years, production of the cherry saw an upward trend in the region perceived to be the leading coffee producer in the country.

Analysts in the sector expect national production to rise to 45 million tonnes up from 39 million tonnes that earned Sh20.2 billion last year.

The region benefited from the National Coffee Debt Waiver programme of Sh4.8 billion, which was designed to offset heavy debts that had threatened to cripple the sector.

Abandoned farms

The Government is yet to clear a balance of Sh89 million to the 27 saccos and unions from the kitty that was remitted in phases.

Peter Karanja, a farmer affiliated to Kangunu Factory in Murang’a, said the programme coordinated by Treasury and the cooperatives department helped farmers who had abandoned their farms over debts back on their feet.

Gaturi Cooperative Society chairman James Maingi said after debt waiver programme, production of cherry went to 800,000kg in 2016/2017 up from an average of 350,000kg in the previous four years.

Highest production

According to details obtained from Coffee Directorate, in 2015/2016 year, coffee production was 46,121 tonnes, before it fell to 39,000 tonnes the following season (2016/2017).

Kenya registered the highest ever production of 128,941 tonnes in 1983/1984 from estates and cooperative societies.

In the past five years, coffee drying beds that were neglected and vandalised have been repaired to match increased production as players in the counties of Murang’a, Kericho, Embu, Meru, Machakos and Kisii move to restore the sector to its glorious past.  

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