Coffee farmers will start supplying their produce to the Kirinyaga coffee mill after the Sh100m factory owned by the Kirinyaga County Cooperative Farmers Union received a license from the Coffee Board of Kenya to process the produce.
The mill which was built in 2015 had remained dormant due to lack of permit forcing farmers to sell their produce to private millers.
The licensing of the mill comes at a time when two millers in the county were ranked among the top 30 best coffee producers in the world in January this year by The Coffee Review, an online publication that analyzes the quality of coffee in the world.
Kabara Coffee Cooperative Society was ranked fourth worldwide in best coffee supplied while Guama Coffee factory was rated at number 25 out of 30 thus recognizing the county and Kenya at large as one of the best coffee producers globally.
Kirinyaga County produces roughly 30m of coffee beans annually. Besides Kirinyaga, other coffee producing regions include Murang’a, Meru, Embu, Kisii, Wundanyi and Thika.
A coffee farmer/photo:courtesy
Kenya coffee earnings declined by 10 per cent in the five months to February 2018 to Sh8bn compared to Sh9bn earned in the same period in 2017 according to data from the Nairobi Coffee Exchange.
The decrease was attributed to shrinking international prices that reduced from Sh27,068 to Sh25,149 for a 50kg bag. The amount of coffee sales also dropped from 16.8m kilos to 16.1m kilos during the period under review.
Kenya exports her coffee to Germany, United States, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom and Canada among other countries.
Germany is the leading importer with 7464 metric tonnes followed by USA at 6083 metric tonnes and Belgium at 5164 metric tonnes where the coffee is used for blending and specialty markets.
Kenya’s coffee production has been declining since the 1980’s from a production of 10kg of the beans per bush to just two kilos currently as famers abandon the crops to venture into real estate, macadamia farming and other crops such as avocado production.
It is estimated that the crop is grown by over 160,000 smallholder farmers in the country in a sector which supports more than two million people directly and indirectly.