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Kenyan specialty coffee farmers find market in the US

coffee plant

Specialty coffee producers in Kenya are set to grow their income following the launch of the beverage auction with a capacity of 38,000 tonnes in the US that will allow the direct sale of the produce further providing market for the growers who have been decrying about poor prices.

According to Samuel Kamau, executive director of the African Fine Coffee Association, Kenya farmers are switching to more lucrative crops and abandoning coffee altogether leading to the decline in production.

The auction which was launched by CS Trade, Industry and Co-operative, Peter Munya last week will sell Kenya’s top coffee grades AA, AB and PB with all the lots having attained over 84 points specialty coffee standard scores.

“The new marketing platform which gives the growers control over their produce is what has pushed us to officially launch this first-of-its-kind Zabuni Specialty Kenya Coffee Auction here at Nebraska, US,” said Munya.

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In the United States, 59 per cent of coffee consumed in 2017 was specialty, compared to 40 per cent in 2010, according to the National Coffee Association.

However, current prices are making it difficult for some specialty growers to stay afloat.

“I hope that the bidding prices for the specialty coffee to be traded will motivate, give fresh hope and impetus to the Kenyan growers to increase the production of coffee,” said Munya.

Roosters who would buy coffee through Zabuni would know for certain that the farmer is fairly paid as the centre recognizes traceability, competitiveness and transparency from the beginning to the end.

“It is making sure that growers who are the people who matter most in the value chain get recognized and compensated for what they do,” said Laban Njuguna, Chief Executive of the new auction.

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Coffee plant loaded with mature berries. Photo courtesy.

According to the CS, the first auction features export coffee from smallholders and small estate growers from Nandi and Kiambu counties who appointed Kenya Planters Cooperatives Union their agent.

In this, coffee roasters from North America would no longer have to travel to Kenya to bid for the produce as they can get it from the auction.

For long, most coffer sales are done through the Nairobi Coffee Exchange with only 12 per cent going through direct sales.

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Demand for specialty coffee is growing.

Specialist coffee shops accounted for about $60 billion in global sales in 2017, compared with $200 billion in overall coffee spending, according to Euromonitor International.

The government is now set to continue giving support to the coffee auctioning initiative by the formulation of appropriate policies and legal frameworks.

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