By Talarus Chesang
More than 200 coffee farmers in Baringo can now smile to the bank after they earned a whopping Shs 28 million for exporting their first consignment of coffee to Korea.
The farmers, from 27 groups, converged at the Katimok coffee factory in Baringo North to receive their dues.
The benefits the farmers received come barely nine months after Korean investor Reverend Cha Bo Yong signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Baringo county government in June last year.
“I chose to invest in this mill after getting satisfaction from a research that proved that coffee from Baringo is natural and sweet,” the reverend said.
Fredrick Chesyna, a farmer, said that since he started farming in 1965, he has never earned such a huge amount of money.
“I would like to sincerely thank the government, the factory management and the Korean investor for this noble initiative,” said Chesyna.
He went on to disclose that he bought all his coffee seeds at the factory at Eldama Ravine because he trusts the factory.
“This is like our own house, let’s build it” he said.
After the signing of the MoU, the investor, in partnership with the national government and the county government of Baringo installed the first ever ultramodern coffee mill worth Shs 100 million located at Katimok forest near Ossen in Baringo North Sub-county.
Michael Yatich, the plant manager, said that the factory mills up to 1.2 tonnes of coffee beans per hour.
“The factory, which began operations on 4th February, is giving handsome returns to the coffee farmers,” Yatich said.
Yatich said that the first batch of export comprised of 70 percent premium coffee grades AA and AB totaling 650 kilogrammes.
“The export earned the farmers Shs 28 million. This is a good start. We still have volumes of ready coffee in our factory awaiting packaging and transportation,” he said.
He revealed that they had to fast track the first payment to boost the farmers’ morale in managing their local coffee farms.
He said that the farmers supplying coffee to the mill are drawn from Baringo Central, Baringo North, Koibatek and Baringo South.
Yatich’s sentiments were echoed by his co-implementation chairman, Baringo Deputy Governor Jacob Chepkwony who said good coffee pricing has already been negotiated between the government and the Korean investor.
“As a county, we can proudly say that we have secured a direct market to Korea. I would like to urge all our coffee farmers to embrace the mill and supply their coffee through us,” Chepkwony said.
He termed coffee farming a game-changer and appealed to farmers across the county to turn to coffee farming arguing that it will automatically change their livelihoods.
Chepkwony said they are looking forward to providing incentives to the farmers in future.
He further promised that the county government will engage more experts like agronomists to offer extension services to the farmers in bid to further improve on the quality of coffee produced.
Before the establishment of Katimok factory, farmers used to transport their coffee all the way to Kericho, Eldoret and Kiambu.