By Ben Oroko
Trading of coffee produce at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) has been devolved to the grassroots coffee farmers, thanks to the recommendations of the Special Coffee Task-force appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to turn around the country’s coffee sector.
As part of the task-force’s recommendations to have NCE modernized, small-holder coffee farmers whose primary co-operative societies are affiliated and deliver their produce to the Gusii Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union (GCFCU) will now monitor their coffee sales and performance in real time through a live stream by NCE at the Union Boardroom every Tuesday.
This live streaming of the coffee trading at NCE is part of the task-force’s proposed reforms meant to incorporate coffee farmers to be part of the trading and marketing system of the country’s precious ‘black gold’ and to facilitate farmers to get market updates and the goings-on at the coffee auction in Nairobi.
The NCE has already installed a monitor at the Union which will receive live streams from the Exchange’s hall located on the second floor of Wakulima House in Nairobi.
Farmers who are unfamiliar with the happenings at the NCE auction will be guided by the Union’s professionals at hand who will be interpreting each step to the viewers to ensure they get the true picture of what happens at the auction in real time.
For starters, on the screen will be the serial number of the catalogue on sale at the exchange and companies competing to buy coffee through bidding.
Consequently, coffee from each co-operative society or factory in the country complete with a directorate code will appear on the monitor to identify the parchment’s origin.
The GCFCU Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Robert Mainya commended the initiative as it will enable farmers monitor how their coffee produce performs at the auction instead of relying on rumours and hearsay.
“As the Union management, we appreciate NCE’s efforts to decentralize coffee auction through live streaming on monitors installed at designated grassroot centres like ours to address the concerns and questions that farmers have raised about their coffee performance in the market,” stated Mainya.
Furthermore Mainya said the new approach to coffee marketing will not only empower grassroots coffee farmers with real time information and knowledge but will also scale down sales-related wrangles pitting farmers against the management of the primary coffee co-operative societies in the region.
The upgrading and advancement of the NCE’s coffee trading system, Mainya observes, will create confidence among coffee farmers and enhance transparency in coffee handling and marketing in the country.
The NCE coffee auction which has existed since 1934 was the only Kenyan coffee marketing channel until 2006 when Direct Sales, also known as Second Window Mode was introduced in the country.