Coffee farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet are set to reap big from the venture after a Sh3 million pulping machine was launched.
The machine has capacity of pulping more than one tonne of coffee cherries per hour and will be stationed at Kocholwa, Soy South Ward, one of the major coffee-producing zones in the region.
Farmers have been selling their produce raw thus denying them more income, but the new pulping machine will add value to the produce.
“This machine will indeed turn around our investments because middlemen always exploit our farmers through purchasing the yields at throw-away prices. Last season, the farmers in the region sold over 46 tonnes to various coffee milling companies,” said Jonah Tanui, one of the farmers.
Mr Tanui said this year farmers have planted 31,715 coffee seedlings and the installation of the machine will be timely.
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“We have projected to plant 100,000 coffee seedlings by April 2021. Going forward we shall market the coffee through farmers’ unions that have been started and ensure we reap maximum unlike before,” he said.
Elgeyo Marakwet is among regions in the country producing the best quality coffee in the market. County Agriculture Executive Anne Kibosia said farmers are expected to earn Sh12 million from sale of coffee before end of this year – up from Sh7.9 million accrued last year as first group of farmers to benefit from the county’s subsidised coffee seedlings begin harvesting.
“The county is in talks with a United Arab Emirates firm to secure better market for our farmers. The discussions are ongoing and we are hoping for the best,” Ms Kibosia said.
Kibosia said areas along the Kerio escarpments and the Elgeyo Marakwet highlands have been found ideal for coffee growing.
“Coffee growing along the escarpment will curb mudslides and we are optimistic the venture will benefit both the household incomes and help conserve the environment,” she said.
Data at the county department of agriculture indicates Kocholwo, Tambach, Sambirir and Embolot-Embobut, Katumoi, Setano and Kabechei have been mapped as areas with immense potential for coffee growing.