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Boost to coffee farmers as AU leaders sign ‘Nairobi Declaration’

Agriculture Ministers from 25 African Coffee growing countries signed a declaration in Nairobi to have coffee included in the list of strategic commodities under the Africa Union.

Dubbed the ‘Nairobi Declaration’, the agreement seeks to ensure that coffee is given more attention in the continent in terms of being financed adequately.

Speaking to the media after the official opening of the First African Coffee Summit at a Nairobi hotel, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said signing of the declaration is a big milestone in the history of the coffee sector in the African continent.

Munya highlighted that the anchoring of coffee onto the African Union shall go a long way towards unlocking the much-needed resources for revitalization of the coffee industry in Africa and therefore support by Member States thus marshalling the AU to admit coffee in its framework meaning that coffee farmers shall benefit.

He said there was a need of creating an environment where coffee farmers could thrive in, assuring of the Governments’ commitment to ensuring that coffee farmers in the country benefited from their hard-earned produce by curbing middlemen who exploit the farmers.

“It is estimated that there are over 800,000 smallholder coffee farmers who market their produce through 500 Cooperative Societies across the country with 4,000 small to medium coffee estates with farm sizes ranging from 5 to 10 hectares and 100 large coffee estates with sizes of between 10 and over 200 hectares,” cited Munya.

In recognition of the coffee sub-sector, the CS said the Government has prioritized coffee as one of the key subsectors in its economic development blueprint as it directly and indirectly contributed to food security and manufacturing through establishment of agro processing industries.

He noted that looking at the historical performance, the coffee sub sector growth has declined due to challenges faced compared to post independence where it led in high production of 129,637 MT in 1987/1988 during the famous coffee boom.

Citing climate change vagaries, perennial price volatility, market access and low domestic consumption as great challenges, Munya said they have adversely affected farmers’ earnings and their livelihoods.

Munya commended the National Government in collaboration with Counties and other stakeholders who have instituted a number of reforms in the Coffee sub-sector which have resulted in a positive impact within a very short period.

“As a result of these reforms, the Kenyan Coffee Industry is registering noticeable improvement with a realization from Sh18.73 billion in 2013/2014, Sh21.61 billion in 2018/2019 and Sh27.07 billion in 2020/2021 which translates to an increase of 33 per cent of coffee earnings between 2013/2014 and 2020/2021,” said Munya.

On the same note, the CS noted the average coffee prices per 60kg bag of coffee have increased from USD 184.60 in 2018/2019 to USD 337.30/60kg bag in 2020/2021 which translates to an 83 per cent improvement in coffee prices adding that in the year 2021/2022 the coffee prices continued to demonstrate remarkable improvement with the auction having registered an average of USD 374.40/60kg bag as of 31st March 2022, an increase of 11.1 per cent from the previous year’s price performance of USD 337.30/60kg bag.

In his remarks, the Office of the President Based Coffee Sector Implementation Committee Chairman Prof. Joseph Kieyah said Kenya has made great strides in terms of enacting new reforms for the last six years.

“Despite prevailing challenges both within and outside the industry, we have witnessed incredible progress especially in increased prices to small scale farmers following legal framework,” said Kieyah adding that some local farmers also managed to export their coffee directly to new markets, for example South Korea.

The Chairman said Kenya coffee producers are currently enjoying impressive prices following high demand of beans globally and renewed Government attention in implementing new reforms, urging the young people to participate in the coffee business.

The First African Coffee Summit was officially opened by CS Munya on behalf of President Uhuru Kenyatta, under the theme ‘Sustainable Development and Economic Growth in the African Coffee Sector’ is going to take 3 days.

By Catherine Muindi

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