, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 2 – Coffee farmers in Kenya can now earn more from their produce following the launch a new firm that has invested in value addition of the produce.
African Coffee Roasters Limited (ACR) has invested in value addition through a factory based at the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) with a capacity of 2,000 tons of roasted coffee per year, which equals approximately 20 million USD (Sh2 billion) worth of export.
The firm was created as a partnership between the Danish retail chain COOP Denmark and IFU an investment firm in Denmark.
“We have sourced coffee from Kenya since Independence. Three years ago we reviewed our coffee supply chain and realized there was a need to change the modus operandi of how coffee is produced and traded,” said ACR Managing Director Poul David Videbaek. “Having realized that most of the money is lost between the producer and the consumer by intermediaries/ middle men we decided it was time for us to engage ourselves in making coffee production profitable for coffee producers while at the same time enabling us to make innovative products for our consumers.”
With the initial capacity, ACR anticipates to create and maintain 75,000 jobs in the rural areas.
The firm is aiming at producing Guacamole, Fruit jams, Tomato paste and chocolate as value chains from the product.
“The value chains we are engaged in, we look at four key parameters: how can we benefit the farmers, how does benefit the community where the farmers live, how can we do product innovation and lastly how do we supply a high quality product to the consumer at a fair price,” Videbaek added.
The firm sells the produce from Kenya to the international market due to its strong presence in Europe.
“We believe in working closely with the farmer, training them to produce the best coffee crop, we are training the next generation to ensure that we maintain the best coffee and we believe in the highest international quality standards,” he added.
The move comes at a time the government is intensifying efforts to revive the country’s coffee sector.
President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed a team earlier this year to review the entire coffee value chain and identify areas that require interventions such as production, processing and marketing of coffee.
The task force identified, among other things, that the current laws governing the coffee subsector are restrictive and do not allow farmers to freely participate in the coffee value chain and enjoy their rights.
“We also realized that the delay in coffee payments resulted in farmers borrowing expensive loans which ultimately lower their earnings and at the same time dissuaded youths from growing coffee altogether,” the report states in part.