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Kenya looks east to boost dwindling coffee earnings

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By BF staff Writer
Kenya is targeting China and other Asian markets to boost its coffee earnings that continue to fall due to the country’s low production and decline in the international prices.
Coffee Directorate, one of the nine directorates under Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) has said it has it is pursuing newer markets like China, Japan and the US markets  to increase Kenya’s coffee earnings, from the current markets the authority is selling its coffee.
Kenya sells most of its Arabica (clean) coffee in Europe and will now be seeking trade partnership with China to increase its earnings – a market Kenya has not had a strong history for such trade venture.
Figures from Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) shows that earnings by coffee farmers for the 2014/15 coffee year have increased by 10.3 percent to Sh8.5billion compared to Sh7.7billion registered in 2013/14, after selling 324, 247 bags, but the directorate feels the slight increase is below the country’s production capacity, and additional production in terms of volumes is needed to further increase earnings.
“We are currently looking at markets that have potential of consuming our coffee and we have began pursuing newer markets but that can only happen if we are able to increase our production volumes,” said Grenville Melli, head of Coffee Directorate during the Africa Coffee Outlook conference.

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Kenya’s coffee production has declined from over 170,000 metric tones of clean coffee per year in the 1990s to an average of 50,000 tons per year presently, in what has been blamed on change in land use and the allure of real estate boom.
The directorate now says it plans to embark on ‘Back to Coffee Campaigns’ which seeks to engage and create awareness among stakeholders and farmers – most of whom are ditching the crop and selling their lands for real estate investments.
Melli said the directorate has identified a market in China as a potential major consumer of its coffee due to its vast population and will in undisclosed dates sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese authorities in an effort to boost earnings.
“We are currently looking at countries that have interest in our coffee and have identified China as one of those markets due to its large population and soon we will sign MoU with them, all we need to do now is to increase our volumes from the current 50,000tons which is a drop in the ocean,” he said.
The directorate is also betting on a policy document currently under development which will seek to address the opportunities and challenges ailing the sub-sector.
The authority targets to have the draft ready by June 2016.

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