For many years, coffee farming was a profitable business. Many remember with nostalgia the good old days when talk of coffee farmers being paid would have the public longing for a share of the millions that flooded the economy.
Today, the situation has drastically changed. The farmers no longer control the sizeable chunk of the economy that was synonymous with growing the crop, at least not at the farm level, and pay day has ceased to be anything to look forward to.
While Kenyan coffee is still highly profitable and fetches handsome prices in the international market, the profits rarely trickle down to the small-scale farmer, who is the rock of the industry. Internationally, the coffee business commands up to Ksh1 trillion annually, but only less than one sixteenth of this figure reaches the farmer at the grassroots.
During the 124th session of the International Coffee Council held at the KICC in Nairobi recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta regretted that though Kenya produces some of the best coffee in the world, the premium prices that it fetches in the global market do not reach the country’s farmers.
“Paradoxically, the farmers, most of them small-scale producers, don’t get much. This phenomenon, though not unique to Kenya, represents the single greatest challenge to the continued prominence of the coffee industry,” he said.
A flawed system has had farmers in a constant struggle to keep afloat, while they face challenges such as poor prices, unstable markets, and late payments. Others are land pressure, high costs of production, poor management of cooperative societies and unscrupulous officials. This has also adversely affected their livelihoods.
Read the full story in SMART FARMER ISSUE 43 Click here to get a copy