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Women coffee farmers trained on value addition

Quality Assistant Controller Timothy Obiayo explains coffee tastes to women coffee farmers from Kericho County during the training in Ruiru on Wednesday. [Jael Mboga, Standard]

Ten young women coffee farmers have been trained on value addition at a session held at the coffee management system grounds.

The farmers from Nandi Hills and Kericho aged between 22 and 35 were trained on how to take care of their produce to fetch high prices.

One of the biggest contributors to the declining coffee production in the country is the old age of farmers who find it hard to adapt to the latest technologies and best farming practices, leading to a high cost of production and low prices.

CMS programme manager Peter Kimata said the project funded by Nestle is aimed at creating long-term value for both farmers and the community.

Kimata, also an agronomist, said the 10 were part of 48 women farmers who were trained in different cohorts in sessions that lasted a week.

Nestle Kenya's Judy Mwangi said the project aims to empower women coffee farmers in areas such as financial literacy, crop value addition as well as taking up leadership roles.

Coffee, the world’s most traded commodity after oil, is one of the country’s top foreign exchange-earners.

In 2019, Kenyan coffee exports registered earnings worth Sh20.3 billion, with a kilo of the unroasted beans fetching Sh417, higher than tea, which fetched Sh239 per kilo.

Kimata said as it is, women shy away from the running of cooperative societies even though they do the bulk of the work in the coffee farms.

Coffee farmers Catherine Kotut and Chepkorir Basemath sample brewed coffee at the CMS headquarters in Ruiru on Wednesday. [Jael Mboga, Standard]

Tabitha Chepkurui from Kunyak Farmers' cooperative society said, "I have been trained on taking care of the cherries even before taking them to the market. Many times we blame the authorities for the low coffee prices when some of our actions do not make the situation any easier."

Her sentiments were echoed by Florence Chepng'eno from Songonyet cooperative society.

She said, "We now understand how quality influences the price of the coffee. We will also need to train our fellow farmers back home so they stop making the same mistakes we have been making."

Kimata said men have also been involved in some of the training to help them appreciate the role played by women in the coffee industry.

Some of the challenges ailing the coffee industry include the high cost of production which requires intensive labour, and expensive transport and farm input.

Kimata added that the young women coffee farmers were also trained on technicalities that when overlooked, reduce the price they would fetch for their produce.

Poor handling of the coffee hurts its taste, weight, smell, and acidity, all of which determine its quality and price.

Many Kenyans have had to contend with instant coffee sachets, which sell at Sh5 each.

The participants urged the government to do more to empower coffee farmers in ways that include setting up nurseries, better rates for seedlings as well as providing agro-inputs.

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