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Farmers return to Coffee farming after prices improve

Farmers of Imenti North, Meru County who had ditched coffee farming for other crops due to lower prices, are slowly returning to cash crop following improved prices of the commodity in the international market.

With a kilogram of coffee now being sold as high as Sh700, coupled with the proposed coffee bill 2021, which seeks to cap interest rate for loans advanced to coffee farmers for capital development to a maximum of 5 per cent, has also boosted the morale of farmers.

Peter Mutwiri, a farmer in Kaaga area is one of the farmers who had stopped coffee farming, citing the decline of price as the main reason. However, since the increase of coffee price he has now embarked in coffee farming again.

“From the1970s, our land was entirely for coffee, because of the good prices it fetched then, but as the years went by, it no longer became profitable and sustainable.  But with the introduction of new measures by the government and also the increase in prices, I can now get back to coffee farming once again,” said Mr Mutwiri.

In Gikumene area, Mrs Catherine Mutheu, a coffee farmer uprooted her farm in 2019, and instead replaced coffee with other crops like Maize.

“I had coffee planted all over this farm but replaced the bushes on at least one acre with other crops, whose global market is stable,” said Mrs Mutheu who is now planning to grow more coffee.

Many farmers in Meru County did not do away with coffee farming completely, but rather took cautious measures that would enable them meet their daily financial needs by venturing into other profitable crops like avocado or macadamia.

The new coffee bill 2021 seeks to improve coffee farming in Kenya, other stakeholders like coffee unions and society faults some of the proposed changes terming them unfair to the societies.

Mr David Mwirigi, the Manager for Kaaga Coffee Factory, which forms part of Ntima Farmers’ Co-Operative Society, says that five per cent deduction from proceeds of coffee sale to support operations of cooperative societies that has been proposed in the new coffee bill is not realistic to daily operations of the societies.

“As a factory involved in wet processing, we incur a lot of expenses in our operations, already our coffee is being processed at Kahawa Bora Millers in Thika that alone increases transportation cost at sh150 per kilo gram.

By Erick Otieno

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