Kirinyaga Governor, Anne Waiguru, is spearheading consultative talks between top leadership of all the 15 coffee cooperatives from the County and an international company that has declared interest in buying the County’s premium coffee.
The talks are geared towards making a deal that will see Kirinyaga coffee farmers eventually negotiate and market their coffee for better and guaranteed returns.
The meeting which was also attended by senior officials from the County’s Department of Trade and Cooperatives and officials from the Kirinyaga Investment Development Authority (KIDA) deliberated on a proposed strategy that will ensure that Kirinyaga Farmers get consistent and the best prices for their coffee.
The India based company that deals in agricultural exports is expected to start buying Kirinyaga coffee as soon as the stakeholders make an agreement that is believed to be a breakthrough achievement for coffee farmers.
Speaking at the meeting held Monday at Kutus, Governor Waiguru said that farmers will soon be liberated from selling their coffee without any guaranteed returns since she is pushing for a 10 years and beyond contract with a stable price.
She said that even though the farmers are currently bound by the contract signed between them and their appointed agencies they will be able to negotiate for minimum guaranteed price starting next financial year, a deal which will maximize their earnings and impact on their livelihoods.
“The negotiations are deemed to be the light at the end of a dark tunnel in which farmers have been getting a miserable Sh 56 per kilo, or thereabout, on average despite coffee being an expensive commodity the world over,” she said.
The Governor said that the County produces enough coffee that will meet the quantity and quality requirements of the company.
The coffee cooperative societies’ leaders lauded the Governor for her efforts in revamping the coffee sector, pledging their support for her vision of liberating farmers.
The County’s coffee sector is dominated by smallholder farmers numbering to around 88,024 who cultivate the crop on 19,898 hectares. There are about 12 million coffee trees that yield around 34,976 tons per year.
Governor Waiguru said that main focus is forging partnerships that will enable the smallholder coffee farmers negotiate and sell their produce directly to exporters without going through middlemen who have many a times been blamed for poor payout to farmers
Kirinyaga County prides itself as one of the world’s finest specialty coffee producers with Kabare and Baragwi Cooperatives being ranked 4th and 25th respectively in the 2018 Coffee Review Report.
The County, that is also the second largest coffee producer in Kenya after Kiambu County, has won various national and global awards for high quality, handpicked, sun dried coffee.
By Irungu Mwangi