After years of poor coffee payments and erratic weather patterns, farmers in Mt Kenya region are smiling to the bank following a financial windfall after the sale of their produce harvested last year.
Owing to good quality of coffee and favorable market prices, a majority of farmers have received more than Sh100 per kilogramme of cherry sold.
Further, the cooperative societies have tapped on direct sales to ensure that farmers earn more for their produce.
Cooperative societies in the region sold heavily internationally compared to the auction.
In Nyeri, the highest paid farmer took home Sh120 up from sh106 they receive last year at Gachatha coffee cooperative followed by Kieni factory from Mugaga cooperative that paid farmers Sh125 per kilogramme delivered to the cooperative.
According to Mr Peter Mathenge, the chairman of Gachatha cooperative, the prices were favorable in respect to the declining coffee production in Brazil due to frost attack last year.
This created a world demand for other coffee grown in different countries favoring Kenyan growers.
“The weather was favorable to flourishing of the coffee berries such that we produced 90 per cent of premium grades of Aa, AB and PB which fetch higher prices in the market,” he said.
He further noted that they sold 80 per cent of their parchment directly to international countries which were buying a 50-kg bag at USD420 while the auction was buying the same quantity at USD310.
At the Thiriku factory where they sold all their produce to an oversea buyer- Trabocca BV a Dutch company paid farmers Sh130 per kilo of coffee they produced. However, the farmers took home Sh110 and Sh20 was deducted by the cooperative as operation cost.
After delivering 304, 887 kilos of coffee to the factory, the chairman said good quality coffee and crop husbandry contributed to their earnings this year.
“We have partnered with an independent laboratory to ensure we meet required standards and for that we had the highest class of quality beans from the farms and this according to the buyer created a demand for our coffee in the global market,’ said Mr Cyrus Waiganjo, the chairman of Thiriku coffee cooperative.
The Ndaroini coffee growers’ association chairman Joseph Mukuha, farmers took home Sh117 after selling 1.9 million kilos through the Nairobi coffee Exchange and internationally.
Mr Mukuha said that the quality of their coffee contributed to fetching high prices of coffee as both markets bought their produce at USD450 per 50-kg bag.
However, the prices at the auction drop in February abruptly with no concrete reason advanced.
“We expected higher prices but the prices plummeted sharply and we would like an explanation on what happened from the coffee exchange,” he said.
At the same time, he noted that drought experience in the year factored in the low infestation of diseases such coffee berry diseases and coffee leaf rust that thrive during the cold season.
“The drought enhanced flowering of the coffee plantations due to water stress which in turn boosted production,” he said.