A Kuwait-based coffee roaster company is set to set up a base in Kenya and offer a direct market to coffee farmers in Machakos.
This follows a visit by a delegation from Collective Coffee Company to Kyanzavi Farmers’ Cooperative Limited members in Matungulu Sub-County of Machakos County.
The firm’s founder Mr Richard Fades who addressed the press noted that the company had visited the country to explore Kenyan Coffee with the intention of enabling the farmers to earn more from their produce.
“We are roasters, we roast coffee and sell to cafes and restaurants. We came to explore coffee in Kenya,” Fades said, adding that this will help eliminate brokers from the market.
Fades disclosed that the team had also visited several coffee farmers in Kisii, Kericho, Nakuru, Nyeri and Meru counties. The delegation toured several farms and later held an interactive meeting with the farmers at the cooperative’s offices.
“We love coffee from Machakos. We have coffee from Machakos back in Kuwait. So, we had to visit to see how coffee business is going on here,” Fades said, adding that there is a huge coffee market in Kuwait.
He pointed out that it was great meeting the farmers to know the challenges they face on a daily basis as they go about farming, processing and looking for markets.
“We were also made aware of the farmer’s obstacles in attempts to get direct markets and hopefully how to help them so that we can all benefit from the coffee business,” Fades said.
“We can see the possibility of doing business with them since they have the good and special quality of coffee that we require. We are specialty coffee roasters,” said Fades, adding that coffee farmers in Kenya should not lose hope in the coffee trade.
Kyanzavi Farmers’ Cooperative Limited Chairman Francis Kalinzoya said that he has been planting coffee since 1971 but the returns have been poor lately.
“I have been planting coffee since my tender age. I’m still a coffee farmer. Earlier years, it was an important product to the country’s economy and development in Ukambani region,” Kalinzoya said.
He pointed out that the majority of the farmers in the area educated their children through coffee farming, adding that some of those whose parents paid school fees through coffee farming were very successful in life.
“Farmers used to take their coffee to cooperative societies. The society paid school fees to schools directly depending on agreements entered into with specific parents. It was a good trade,” he said.
“Some elderly men used to go to Mombasa for holidays after getting their earnings from coffee. But nowadays, coffee has got no good returns. You plant coffee, use lots of money to produce the commodity only to get negative returns,” Kalinzoya said.
Kalinzoya said farm inputs for growing coffee like fertilizers, agrochemicals, and coffee processing are expensive hence rendering farmers paupers instead of good income earners.
“You can’t even earn a quarter of the expenses. Farmers started intercropping, planting maize and beans in coffee farms so as to get food,” Kalinzoya said, adding that farmers earn less than what they invest in coffee production.
Kalinzoya blamed brokers and cartels on challenges faced by coffee farmers in Kenya adding that the farmers can earn good returns by letting producers sell directly to the global markets.
He said brokers go looking for markets abroad, then return to the country acting as the coffee traders in the global markets, hence frustrating the real farmers who in turn earn peanuts.
“Those planting coffee are the elderly men and a woman because youths believe that coffee doesn’t earn farmers much, no returns. But if coffee has money, all will return to coffee farming,” Kalinzoya said.
The Chair appealed to the government to intervene and address the coffee farmers’ plight by rescuing them from brokers so as to enable them to earn reasonably from the trade. He lamented that farmers were struggling with loans from banks and cooperative societies hence the government should allocate some funds to cushion them.
A spot check by the Kenya News Agency in several farms in Matungulu and Kangundo sub-counties revealed that there was lots of intercropping in the farms. It was also established that some farmers had uprooted coffee and replaced it with maize and beans saying it had no benefits.
On November 21 this year, Members of Parliament and Senators from coffee growing areas converged at a Machakos hotel to discuss issues of coffee legislation.
The 77 Parliamentary Caucus on Coffee members blamed coffee farmers’ woes on cartels where they vowed to table the matter in their respective houses to correct what they termed as abnormality in the coffee sector.
The team that was headed by its chairperson and Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba vowed to come up with a legislative framework which will counter laws which have allegedly been oppressive to the farmers.
By Rachael Kilonzo