17 June 2018

Kenya: Not Much Aroma Left in Kenyan Coffee

Photo: The Exchange
Kenya coffee on display.

Kenyan legislator Moses Kuria has planned a motion in parliament that will discuss a bill that will ban the export of raw coffee compelling Kenyan companies to process the local produce thereby increasing the sale price and creating employment.

The bill according to the MP will sort out the perennial loss of income to small scale farmers in Kenya. The Coffee Bill 2018 proposes to bypass the Nairobi Coffee Auction and have farmers sell premium coffee directly to markets.

"I am introducing a bill in the National Assembly to provide that coffee be exported only in processed form having been roasted, milled, packed and branded, clearly labelled with a 'Made in Kenya' inscription," Kuria said in a letter to the Speaker of Kenya's National Assembly.

However, the bill though ambitious might be too little too late. Land under coffee has been declining as farmers in the coffee growing zones opting to sell land for real estate development.

Data from the ministry of agriculture show that Kenya's coffee best peak was at 129,000 tonnes in 1988-89, which has since dropped to 40,700 tonnes in the 2016-17 year. Kiambu county once was the prime producer of Kenyan coffee but with urbanization encroaching, most of the land has been converted into gated estates as well as industrial parks.

Records estimate that Kenya's coffee is slightly above 1 percent of global output but its rich aroma and quality has made it one of the most sought after.

The re-emergence of coffee berry disease has also been a major hindrance to the crop which is the fifth largest foreign exchange generator for the country. Equally global prices and constant politics have reduced the influence of the crop.

Ethiopia and Uganda are the other major competitors of the global cake while Brazil is the global leader. These countries have developed impressive marketing campaigns that have targeted the coffee drinking giants of America and Europe.

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