Small scale coffee farmers outsmart brokers to clinch lucrative export market

By Benedict Ng’etich                                                                   

A total of 9,582 small holder coffee farmers under Kipkelion District Co-operative Union Ltd (KDCU) have received cheques worth Shs. 105.1 million for the sale of 134.4 metric tonnes of coffee exported to South Korea a month ago.

Out of the direct sales, the farmers drawn from Kericho, Nandi, and Bomet counties earned an average of Shs.116 per kilo of cherry compared to the average Shs.76 fetched at the local auction.

Speaking while presenting the cheques to the farmers, the Kericho Governor Prof Paul Chepkwony termed the move by the small scale coffee farmers to outmaneuver oppressive brokers and other intermediaries as historic and commendable.

“Today we are happy and on behalf of the small scale farmers, I thank everybody, the national government, our Embassy in South Korean and other officials who made the first venture of direct sales a success,“ he remarked.

He said every small scale farmer’s wish was prompt and full payment for their produce.

At the same time the governor participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a warehouse to assist in storage of produce as they await exportation.

A former director of KDCU Mr. Joseph Koskei said the direct sales deal required farmers to deliver  7 containers in a period of three months, which he noted was massive and more coffee was needed. He therefore called on the all small scale farmers in the three counties and others like Baringo to take their produce to Kipkelion Coffee Mills for the new venture to succeed.

Koskei said they were making efforts to make the mill a major exporter of the produce in the region.

On the same note, Kipkelion District Cooperative Union (KDCU) have appealed to the Nairobi Coffee Exchange, who have blocked them from accessing the auction, to open the door for them so as to participate in the auction.

In a statement, the union says in part: “We now wish to boldly state that history is on the side of coffee farmers; we have farmer centric coffee laws, supportive county and national government working collaboratively to support us.”

The cooperative successfully exported a total of 134.4 metric tonnes of coffee valued at USD 908,160.

“This is a historic achievement to small scale coffee farmers across the country as it is a clear demonstration that given an opportunity and with support, the farmers have the potential to rise up to the occasion and produce, mill, meet export requirements, negotiate and export our coffee across the entire globe,” other parts of the statement read.

The payments will benefit 23 societies namely Chepkitar, Kapias, Labaa, Sereng, Kapkener, Kimologit, Sombo, Tuiyabei, Kapkulumben, Lebekwen, Sise, Menet, Olmismis, Kunyak, Koisagat, Kaldit, Siwot,Kapsinende,Kabirirgut, Trimat Estate,J.Bore Estate,Longoi Estate and Marijan Estate.

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