Farmers rake in Sh24.8b from coffee sales at Nairobi auction

Farmers sort coffee cherries at Murue Coffee Factory, Embu County. [Joseph Muchiri, Standard]

Farmers earned more than Sh24.8 billion from the sale of coffee last year.

According to a report by the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE), cooperative societies and estates sold 635,905 bags of produce out of deliveries of 729,511 bags through the NCE.

The report further indicates that coffee sold between 2022/2023 and 2023/2024 shows an increase in sales, owing to the high production of the commodity. 

Between August 15 and September 30, last year, activities at the NCE experienced a slump as farmers in the cooperative societies and estates withheld their produce due to the confusion in implementing the coffee reforms.

Currently, NCE is accommodating an average of 20,000 bags of coffee weekly.

On December 5 last year, the Nairobi auction registered the highest sales of 94 per cent after it facilitated the sale of 9,730 bags out of 10,372 bags.

The farmers earned Sh448.3 million in the sale, with New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (NKPCU) scooping Sh152 Million and Alliance Berries Limited Sh94.1 million.

In the year under review, 75 per cent of the buyers participated in the auction, with the trend improving from October 1, 2023, as more farmers brought in produce for sale.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the trading in the coffee sector was successful as those who frustrated the reform agenda were back buying the commodity in bulk.

Gachagua noted that reforms in the agriculture sector have been successful, starting in coffee and tea with emphasis on the dairy sector.

“There are buyers who attempted to blackmail the government through abandoning the market, but after releasing Sh6 billion for Cherry Fund, they trooped back into the market,” said the DP.

NCE Chief Executive Officer Risper Ndung’u noted that between August 15 and December 19, 2023, NKPCU and Alliance Berries Limited marshalled thousands of bags of coffee into the market from the farmers in the cooperatives societies and estates.

“We started very low, but now NCE is a hive of activities flooded with buyers of international repute weekly,” said the CEO.

Ms Ndung'u expressed optimism that this year more coffee would channeled through NCE owing to the farmers' confidence in the process.

Last week, Cooperative Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui toured coffee-growing counties in Mt Kenya, urging the farmers to increase production to satisfy the growing market.

“There is a delegation of Koreans looking for our coffee, while the government is exploring to have Starbuck and C Dorman as major buyers for our coffee,” said Chelugui, accompanied by NKPCU Chairman Daniel Kiprotich and Managing Director Timothy Mirugi.

“NKPCU will work closely with the farmers in implementation of the reforms in the sector focusing on increased production,” said Kiprotich.

Kigumo MP Joseph Munyoro, a member of the Coffee Tea parliamentary group (Cotepa), said leaders moved to their backyards to educate farmers on the need to support the reforms geared towards eradicating cartels that brought confusion in the coffee sector.

“We urge the government to explore more markets for the farmers to get more returns from the sale of their produce,” said Munyoro.

On Monday, January 16, 2024, NCE will auction 22,066 bags of coffee, with KNPCU bringing on board 6,359 bags and Alliance Berries Limited 5,000 bags.  Kipkelion will bring 2,044, Kirinyaga Slopes 4,253 bags and Mt Elgon 1,758 bags among others.

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