The Trans Nzoia County Government is set to increase land under coffee production, from the current 2,535 hectares to 10,000 by the year 2023, according to County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Crop Management, Mrs Mary Nzomo.
Speaking to KNA in Kitale, Nzomo said the Department of Agriculture is committed towards helping coffee farmers broaden their income base by 2023, through increased land under the cash crop.
Fresh from marking International Coffee Day that was celebrated last Friday, the Agriculture CEC said the day provided farmers and stakeholders in the County, with opportunity to reflect on some of the gains made in coffee production and value chains.
The theme for this year’s International Coffee Day focused on the challenges coffee Sub sector grapple with and global governments urged to urgently put in place intervention strategies from multi-sector approach, to ameliorate the same and enable farmers enjoy maximum benefits.
“Farmers in this Sub-sector are facing high costs of production, combined with dwindling yields, inadequate value addition, narrow markets and adverse climatic conditions and inaccessible affordable credit facilities,” cited Nzomo.
She said for the coffee farmers to harvest better yields, there was need to shift from traditional practices to technologically advanced methods of production such as grafting.
“Thus, the reason our County Government plans to move with speed and address these challenges in order to improve production of the crop,” she added.
The CEC applauded coffee production for being Kenya’s fourth foreign exchange earner after tea, tourism and horticulture.
“In fact the coffee industry, directly and indirectly supports close to 5 million Kenyans,” she observed.
According to records in her office, the County boasts of 3,910 coffee farmers with about 327 coffee estates, ranging between small, medium and large.
She further noted about 17,992 people earn livelihoods, directly and indirectly from coffee farming in the County.
“Coffee farmers in Trans Nzoia produced 749 metric tons of the clean coffee, which was valued at Sh215 million last season,” disclosed Nzomo, adding this was an improvement from 658 metric tons produced in 2018/19.
According to the Minister, coffee farmers in the country collectively produced over 36,000 metric tons in the quoted season, valued at Sh17.4 billion.
Besides improving coffee production, Nzomo said the Department was presently implementing an ambitious crop diversification programme, to mitigate risks associated with over-dependence on maize production.
Through the programme, farmers in the County are being encouraged to embrace and promote production of tissue culture bananas, coffee, tea, avocados, macadamia and apples.
Nzomo disclosed to KNA, the devolved unit was in partnership with the Solidaridad, an international organization and has put up 100,000 seedlings capacity coffee nursery, for Muroki Coffee Farmers Society, as well as donated over 2,000 macadamia seedlings to the coffee
farmers to be planted alongside the coffee plants.
“The establishment of a 100,000 coffee nursery at Muroki Coffee Cooperative Society in Saboti Sub-County, will enable farmers from the area access the best quality seedlings at subsidized prices,” remarked who thanked Solidaridad for the initiative.
Solidaridad is an international civil society organization with over 50 years of experience in developing solutions to make communities more resilient.
The organization has a presence in about 40 countries in five continents.
By Maurice Aluda