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Kenya coffee output to grow

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 19 – Coffee production in the country is expected to be on an upward trend in the next few years owing to intervention measures that are being undertaken to improve the sub sector.

Agriculture Permanent Secretary Dr Romano Kiome said on Thursday that reforms, including settling the sub-sector’s debts and opening up new marketing channels were being implemented and had already begun bearing fruit.

“These measures have started paying dividends and the coffee production for the 2008/2009 rose to about 60,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) up from the 50,000 MT recorded in 2007/2008,” he said through the ministry’s Director of Policy Ann Onyango.

During the same period (2008/2009), farmers earned Sh9.8 billion with some taking home Sh54 per kilogram of cherry.

Production in the late 1980s was in the range of 120,000 MT and reached an all time high of 130,000 MT in 1989 but the trend dipped in 1990s when the local sub sector was desolated by a crisis in the global industry.

The government has however tried to put in place incentives to revive enthusiasm for coffee farming through measures such as the introduction of the second window of marketing coffee.

“This has been very instrumental in energising the farmers to produce more coffee because the marketing channels are many now,” Mrs Onyango said.

 She assured that other challenges such as coffee diseases were being addressed to ensure an increase in the incomes of the growers.

The Coffee Leaf Rust and the Coffee Berry Disease have impacted negatively particularly on small scale producers in Africa, Asia and Latin America due to the stringent and expensive disease management practices that are required.

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“These diseases have been very key in reducing production levels of coffee. They are economically important to farmers because they can totally eradicate a crop. We have been experiencing high losses because of this,” she said.

Mrs Onyango however told participants at a workshop on coping with the diseases that the government had contributed Sh14.5million for a five year project that aims to help farmers cope with diseases such as the Coffee Leaf Rust in order to maximise productivity and quality of the Kenyan coffee.

The project is funded by the Common Fund for Commodities(CFC) and supervised by International Coffee Organisation (ICO) under a total cost of Sh298 million ($4 million).

CFC will be contributing Sh215 million ($2.9 million) while the ICO will put in Sh81 million ($1.1 million) towards the project which will also be executed in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda and India.

Once implemented, it is expected to help Africa tap its huge potential in production and earnings. Production in the continent averages 540 kg per hectare compared to an average yield of 750kh/ha in Asia and 950kg/ha in Latin America.

Africa’s earnings have also declined by nearly 50 percent from Sh164 billion ($2.2 billion) posted in the mid 1980s.

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