A cooperative society in Kirinyaga County has started adding value to its coffee in a bid to generate more income.
Mwirua Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society is now roasting and packaging its coffee after the county government provided it with value addition machines.
The 14,000-member society received a coffee roaster, a grinder and a packaging machine and this now enables them to roast, package and sell their own coffee to Kirinyaga residents.
Mr George Muthii Karimi, who is the society’s manager, explained that while the county government provided the value addition equipment, the society applied for the requisite licenses and authority from entities such as the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).
Mr Karimi explained that the society started roasting its coffee in December 2020 and has so far processed 130 bags of coffee. The roasted coffee has a guaranteed market from the member farmers who agreed during their January 2020 annual general meeting that each one of them will be buying at least 500 grams of roasted coffee. The rest of the coffee is then sold to residents through coffee factories and local shops.
Their target is to encourage local consumption of at least 20 per cent of their coffee, thereby improving the society’s income and payouts to farmers and thereafter gradually introduce the value added coffee to supermarkets and other outlets in and outside the county.
The society comprises nine coffee factories namely Kariani, Mitondo, Getuya, Gathabi, Kiaragana, Kiambwe, Rwamuthambi, Riakiania and Ihara.
The society’s chairman, Geoffrey Kinyua, said that the equipment has been of great help to the farmers as it is enabling them to add value to lower grades of coffee, hence fetching more money for them.
Mr Kinyua thanked Governor Anne Waiguru's administration for enabling the value addition initiative that is set to turn around the fortunes of the cooperative society’s members. He said that eventually, their roasted coffee will be trading on the international market.
During the equipment handover ceremony at the society’s offices earlier last year, Ms Waiguru said that value addition is in line with the Jubilee administration’s Big Four Agenda and will go a long way in improving the farmers’ returns from coffee and also encourage local consumption of the commodity.
Governor Waiguru said that value addition on coffee will also create employment for the youth who are operating the equipment and who are also engaged in various stages of the coffee value chain.