The Belarus Ambassador to Kenya, Dimitri Kuptel is seeking to have his country buy local coffee directly from farmers without having to go through middlemen and brokers.
He said through such middlemen and brokers his country is only able to buy between 15- 20 per cent of the commodity while acknowledging that he had established the proceeds which get to the farmers were minimal.
The Envoy said should the partnership his country is seeking with the Kenyan farmers over buying the commodity directly will succeed, noting the percentage of the current volume, Belarus buys could rise to about 80 per cent.
Kuptel who was visiting coffee farmers in Kirinyaga County however, said there was need for increasing the production capacity as well as improving on quality of the crop in order to sustain his home market.
“Coffee produced in Kenya and Kirinyaga County in particular is of high quality and as research has shown, the farmers despite their efforts end up getting little payment for their premium crop but we want this changed to ensure at least what they are paid is commensurate with their hard work,” Kuptel said.
The Ambassador who was accompanied by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice President, Dr. Eric Ruto and the local Chamber Chapter Chairman, Waweru Njogu assured the farmers his country was willing to supply them with affordable farm inputs.
He also visited the dormant Sh. 200 million Kirinyaga County Cooperative Society Mill at Kimicha which he said he would wish to be milling all the coffee from the area and market from there.
“This mill will be very crucial to your marketing of the crop since it has the capacity to process all the coffee produced in the area from where our traders can be coming for the produce directly,” Kuptel said.
At the same time, the Coffee Research Institute (CRI) has embarked on a massive farmer education aimed at instilling modern skills of producing coffee.
Through the programme, the farmers are being taught on how to deal with major coffee diseases and pests using the emerging farming technologies whose results were expected to boost production.
The CRI’s Extension Services Manger, Jonathan Luusa said among the emerging technologies was the grafting of traditional coffee with high yielding and disease resistant varieties.
Luusa was speaking in Kutus town during a one-day workshop for coffee farmers from the county.
Kirinyaga County produces an average of 14 million kilograms of cherry per year. Coffee produced in the area is rated as premium but the high costs of farm inputs and low returns have been cited as the main impediments to the sector
Perennial thefts of the crop at factory level is also a major concern for the sector.
By Irungu Mwangi