Coffee cherries. Photo courtesy.
Laban Njuguna, a Kenyan entrepreneur based in Grand Island, a city in Nebraska ,US is seeking to market the county’s coffee in the state in a bid to benefit more Kenyan farmers as the country set strategies to improve production of the cash crop.
According to Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), Kenya has put measures in place to increase annual coffee production from 40,000 metric tonnes to 48,000. The country is the world’s 16th largest coffee producer while small family farmers produce about 70 per cent of the crop.
The entrepreneur devised the plan to bring the coffee directly from farmer co-operatives in Kenya to the US. His goal is to set up a specialty coffee marketplace.
“We want to make the supply chain more efficient for the benefit of farmers in Kenya,” Njuguna said during a meeting.
A Nebraska trade delegation is set to visit Kenya later this week to continue further discussions on making Grand Island a distribution hub of Kenyan coffee in the US.
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The trade trip is being coordinated by the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation. The delegation will leave the country on Thursday.
GIAEDC President Dave Taylor, Njuguna and Nebraska State Senator, Dan Quick will head up the Nebraskan trade delegation. Other delegation members have expertise in irrigation, animal nutrition, science, food storage, logistics and distribution and agriculture.
According to Taylor, the delegation will also explore opportunities to export goods and services from Nebraska to Kenya.
In April, Grand Island welcomed a trade delegation from Kenya, including coffee producers, to open up negotiations about shipping coffee to Grand Island for processing and distribution.
Taylor said the US African Growth and Opportunity Act allows Kenyan coffee to come to the US tariff-free. The delegation will meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya during the visit. They will also meet with others, including coffee farmers and their cooperative leaders.
“Grand Island and Nebraska have a very unique trade opportunity with our partners in Kenya,” Taylor said.
“The direct import of Kenyan coffee into our community and the subsequent coffee auctions, as well as potential export opportunities, will have a major impact on the local economy and further Grand Island’s place in the global market.”