Woes facing coffee farmers in Nyeri as a result of poor payments occasioned by infiltration by cartels and middlemen in the industry may soon be over after the county government stepped in to safeguard their interest by creating a direct link with buyers.
Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga, said he was looking forward to creating partnerships with international coffee buyers to eliminate all brokers who have for long taken advantage of them by purchasing the commodity at a throwaway price.
The industry, once a key pillar of the country’s economy, has over the years faced myriad challenges including poor management, high cost of inputs and poor payments forcing many farmers to abandon the crop in favor of other profitable ventures.
Currently, coffee production in Nyeri is at an all-time low; at an annual production of three kilos per tree. Three decades ago, average production per tree stood at 13 kilos.
With this new development, Kahiga said there was hope that the ailing industry that has been the mainstay of the area’s economy will be back on feet again.
Speaking when he received a delegation of Italian coffee buyers Monday, the governor said linking farmers to buyers directly would put an end to the era of systems that have led to exploitation of farmers at the expense of intermediaries.
“Key for us is to link buyers and farmers to take away bureaucracy that has been exploiting farmers,” said Kahiga, adding that the visit by the delegation was a sign of good times ahead.
The delegation according to Stefano Scaferia an official of Illycaffe, an Italian coffee roasting company specializing in the production of espresso coffee was in the area to carry out a study of the supply chain of coffee production in Kenya.
Espresso is brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. As a result of the pressurized brewing process, the flavors and chemicals are very concentrated.
He said the study that among other issues aimed at finding out reasons why Kenyan coffee was not finding its way in the Italian market was the first step towards future discussions and engagements.
“We want to find out why Italians are not buying a lot of Kenyan coffee as well as letting coffee growers know what Italians want in terms of quality and quantity,” said Scaferia.
He continued that they were not only focused on buying Kenyan coffee but also the welfare of farmers in a bid to improve the quality and sustain production to meet the needs of the huge Italian market.
The official said that Illycaffe which buys coffee from 141 countries worldwide was very much interested in buying coffee from Kenya given its good quality.
Italy-Kenya Trade Association official, Ms. IreshaSaranage, said the association would partner with Nyeri farmers to make them understand the Italian market in terms of the quality the market requires.
Nyeri County has been selected as one of the pilot counties for the revamping of the industry in the country.