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Kenya Colombia coffee deal boosts earnings, production for farmers

Kenyan coffee farmers find hope in partnership with Colombia and reforms, aiming to increase production, earnings, and market opportunities.

Coffee farmers in Kenya are experiencing a resurgence of hope for increased production and earnings thanks to a new partnership with Colombia and ongoing reforms in the sector. The Chairman of the National Coffee Corporate of Kenya, Francis Ngone, highlighted the benefits that farmers will receive from the reforms spearheaded by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, including a boost in the country's foreign income. Ngone also mentioned that the fight against cartels in the sector is starting to show positive results.

A delegation of coffee farmers and researchers from Colombia recently visited the Coffee Research Institute in Kiambu as part of the collaboration between the two countries. This visit followed Deputy President Gachagua's trip to Colombia last year, where he emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation to improve yields and income for coffee farmers. The researchers engaged in knowledge-sharing sessions with local farmers on various aspects of coffee production, such as increasing yields, fertilization, harvesting, milling, and marketing.

The exchange program with Colombian researchers is expected to provide Kenyan farmers with valuable expertise on best farming practices and access to new markets. The goal is to strengthen marketing strategies and ultimately increase returns for farmers. Kiambu Brokerage Company chairman David Njoroge expressed optimism that the minimum returns per kilogram of coffee, currently at Sh80, could potentially increase to around Sh150 with the full implementation of the reforms. He also called for the licensing of private millers to help improve prices and advocated for the enhancement of branding and marketing through the Coffee Board of Kenya.

Dr. Elijah Gichuru, the Director of the Coffee Research Institute, highlighted the importance of the partnership with Colombian researchers in introducing new coffee varieties, combating pests and diseases, and implementing technology to support coffee farming in the face of climate change. The discussions between the two nations, as emphasized by Cooperatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui and Colombian Ambassador to Kenya Pedro Leon Ruib, are expected to strengthen ties and promote mutual benefits.

The government's focus on empowering smallholder coffee farmers is crucial, as coffee plays a significant role in improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Kenya. Data from the national Coffee Directorate shows that in the 2022/23 season, Kenya exported 47,861 tonnes of coffee, generating a value of Sh36.6 billion (USD 251.86 million). This partnership with Colombia and the ongoing reforms in the sector are poised to bring about positive changes for coffee farmers in Kenya, paving the way for increased production, higher earnings, and a brighter future for the industry.

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