Global foods company Nestle has invested Sh35m to assist more than 26,000 farmers in improving the quality and productivity of their coffee, in response to the growing demand for Kenyan coffee in the global market. The 'Nescafe Plan' is now working with nine Farmer’s Cooperative Societies (FCS), 27 wet mills and over 26,000 farming households in different coffee growing zones. “The demand for coffee in the world market has shown a steady increase in the recent past and Nestle, with its world famous coffee brands like Nescafe and Nespresso, is one of the buyers of world class coffee.
Kenya is known globally as a source of high quality coffee, most of which is from smallscale farmers,” said Nestle global CEO Mr Paul Bulcke, inaugurating the first Nestle Nescafe project in the Karatina area of Central Kenya. The Nescafe Plan, launched in Kenya in March, is training farmers and offering them technical support to improve productivity and quality to achieve specialty grade coffees.
The project involves hands on theoretical training on the best farming practices from scientists and researchers, and practical courses on coffee farming and processing on demonstration plots. Nestle is additionally facilitating and providing the farmers with elite coffee varieties, in the drive to get them verified under the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C), which is an important verification standard that many Kenyan small scale farmers havent managed to adhere to due to lack of information Farmers who undergo the training will get a guaranteed market for their coffee from Nestle at competitive prices.
For example, while farmers normally now earn Sh120 for a kilo of coffee sold, Nestle is promising them Sh200. The Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK), the state agency responsible for the promotion of the coffee production said growing demand for coffee in emerging markets and within Africa means the market for the commodity will be sustained and therefore farmers do not need to worry about the market. “We are telling farmers to take advantage of the growing culture of coffee consumption in countries like China, India , the Middle East and within the Africa ’s growing middle class,” said CBK Managing Director Loise Njeru Wawira In 2010, Nestle announced it would double the amount of coffee bought directly from farmers to 180,000 tons over the next five years.
Currently, the company sources its coffee from markets in South East Asia, such as Thailand, China, Indonesia and the Philippines, and directly from farmers in Brazil, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire and Mexico. In Africa, Nestle sources coffee from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi . But Kenya is currently seeking to restore coffee growing volumes that have dropped to an all time low of 50 tonnes a year from a historic peak of 130,000 tonnes in 1988. The upscaling of production has been driven by the shift in the world market away from country specific quotas, which mean that each country can market as much coffee as possible in the international market.
Globally, Nestlé plans to invest close to Sh29bn in the farmer project over the next 10 years. This is in addition to Sh17bn invested in coffee projects over the last decade.
Written by Bob Koigi for African Laughter
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