European Union regulation risks locking out Kenyan coffee

Coffee farmer Elijah Lugali Ayida at his coffee farm at Lodenyo village in Vihiga County on October 24, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kenyan coffee risks being locked out of the European Union market if farmers continue encroaching on forestland by September next year.

To secure the EU market, the government needs Sh400 million to facilitate the development of Geo Maps.

It emerged that Kenya supplies the EU market with 50 per cent of the coffee requirement and thus needs to capture all the 1.2 million farmers on the geo map platform.

Out of the local production of 52,000 metric tonnes, 50 per cent is marketed in the EU countries that want coffee grown in areas cleared after July 1, 2021, blocked access.

The revelation of the conditions was deliberated in a stakeholders’ forum in Nairobi, convened by Solidaridad East and Central African, and Kenya Coffee Producers Association.

Solidridad’s Senior policy adviser Gert Van Der Biji, said the firms need to show due diligence that their products are deforestation-free, traceable, and the land is placed on Geo Map.

The 27 member states in the EU, will appoint a Competent Authority that will execute checks and verification.

The adviser said the policy is set to take effect in September 2024 and that the EU has developed an information system where firms will download their data ahead of a test run on November 23, 2024.

“The focus is on the restoration of the forests and jointly addressing the root causes of deforestation and forest degradation,” said Mr Gert.

Stephen Githuka, head of programmes at Solidaridad said coffee farms will be placed on the Geo Map for easy traceability of the commodity in the market.

Githuka explained that the buyers demand that farmers adhere to the international regulations on forest cover and the abolition of child labour, among others.

"The concept of sustainable agriculture and the development of a smallholder farmers’ atlas is a key requirement to allow the produce access to the market," he said.

“Reclaiming Sustainability Agriculture concept where the produce is grown was deafforested will be barred from the market,” he added. 

Kenya Coffee Producers Association Chairman Peter Gikonyo said there was need to sensitize farmers to comply with the market demands.

“The Ministry of Agriculture should facilitate the organisations to help in documenting the farmers' details to comply with the set conditions,” said Gikonyo.

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