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    National Coffee Revitalization Progress Report

    By George Munene

    Speaking on Monday at the National Coffee Revitalization Progress Report, Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya said farmers will now have discretion in the processing, trading, and selling of coffee beans with the passage of the Coffee Bill 2021

    At the meeting held in Nairobi, Munya identified marketing agents, doubling as coffee buyers, as some of the main culprits who contribute to poor returns gotten by coffee cultivators. Per the bill, this practice, he said, will be made illegal curbing farmer exploitation as it prohibits factory management from using farmers’ assets as collateral when taking loans.

    According to the report, in the year 2019-2020, Kenya exported 46,333 metric tons of green coffee beans, earning it Sh22 billion.

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    While Kenya’s coffee fetched some of the best prices internationally, the payment gotten for the cherry for farmers continues to decline. This is partly responsible for the 30 per cent decline in coffee cultivated area, from 170,000 hectares in the early 1990s to 119,000 hectares in 2020. From a production peak of 129,000 metric tons in 1983-84, the crop's output has seen a 70 per cent decline to just 40,000 metric tons in 2020.

    The proposed Coffee Bill 2020 further outlaws millers and marketing agents from lending to farmers. This will now be the charge of the Sh3 billion Cherry Advance Revolving Fund which was approved by Kenya's Cabinet and will offer coffee farmers loans at a more affordable 3 percent interest. Coffee society deductions from the proceeds of sales will also be capped at 5 per cent. 

    “We intend to reform the sub-sector by improving efficiency, performance and profitability to farmers and increasing international sales of products,” Munya said 

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    At the meeting, David Njogu, Coordinator of The Coffee Revitalization Project, stated that recruitment of a service provider who will engage youth trained in agriculture to offer extension services to farmers is underway. “This will help disseminate technologies which are essential for modern coffee production to our farmers,” he said.

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    cost of milk production in Kenya

    By George Munene

    According to a 2021 study on the cost of milk production in Kenya commissioned by Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) dairy farming remains one of the country’s more profitable agricultural ventures.

    According to data collated by the study’s rapporteur The Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development (TIAPD), on average, major milk processors bought milk for Sh35 in 2019, while the cost of production ranged from Sh17-27. Gross revenue earned from milk production also improved by three per cent over the last five years.

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    Intensive dairy production systems such as zero grazing had the highest gross revenue, Sh35.87, marginally better than semi-zero grazing, Sh37.27. Extensive farming, i.e, open field grazing, earned a  total income of Sh31. However factoring in the costs of production intensive dairy enterprise had a lower whole profit, Sh10.3 a liter to Sh18.43 accrued from semi-zero grazing and Sh19.74 gotten from open field rearing.

    Feeds and labour accounted for most of the cost of production at 85 per cent. Feeding zero grazed cattle accounted for 55 per cent of farmer’s cost, this was 45 per cent for open grazed cattle cattle and 37 per cent for those that were semi zero grazed.

    Conversely, semi zero grazed cattle consumed the most in labour costs, 48 per cent, while zero grazed cattle consumed the least at just 33 per cent.

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    The report also showed that a majority of farmers have embraced intensive systems of production. Intensive dairy farming was most practiced by farmers in Meru, Nyeri, Muranga, Taita Taveta, Embu, Kiambu, Nakuru and Machakos. Open field grazing was common in Narok and Uasin Gishu counties.

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    Milking dairy cow

    By George Munene

    Amongst the key reforms contained in The Kenya Dairy Industry Regulations, 2021, was the setting of a minimum farm gate price of Sh 33 for a liter of milk. This has proven to be a key instigator for many to get into dairy farming and inspired a return for those who had abandoned the enterprise entirely owing to perennially poor prices.

    At its enacting into law in March of this year Agriculture CS Peter Munya stated that the dairy sector continues to be faced with a myriad of challenges. “Poor prices, seasonality of production, low productivity, poor quality, costly and inaccessible animal feeds, lack of an adequate regulatory framework among others have all contributed to making the dairy agricultural sub-sector unappealing for farmers, Munya pointed out.

    While many of the embarked-on reforms will require years to be realised, in the short term, the artificial price cupping of milk bought from farms by processors has breathed a new lease of life for farmers.

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    Having inherited her parent's dairy farm in Igoji, Meru County, in 2016, Agnes Kanini was winding down the business, making a pivot to horticultural farming. “Earning between Sh28 to 18 a liter for milk which on average cost Sh24 to produce made dairy keeping a high-wire act. A disease outbreak that depreciated the amount of milk we normally produced meant spending months trying to break even once again,” she explained. Having sold half her initial 22 milking herd, Kanini, like many others, was well on her way out of the sector. The new dairy industry reforms and the government’s February 2020 directive on the minimum farm gate price of Sh 33 per kilogram have reeled her back in.

    “For a year and a half now we have been supplying milk for Sh41-Sh30—that is a price run I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” she said.

    The regulations further strengthen the hand of Kenyan dairy farmers by safeguarding them against unfair trade practices, competition, and dumping. With stiff penalties that include the destruction of the illegally imported dairy produce material for those found to have contravened the dairy imports and exports clause of the law.

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    The new reforms also safeguard consumers by outlining a framework for the labeling, calibration, storage, and distribution of dairy products. This is to be adhered to by players across the milk production value chain.

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