Ministry of Agriculture chief administrative secretary Andrew Tuimur has lamented that the coffee sector has registered dismal performance with production dropping from an all-high of 128,862 tonnes of clean coffee in 1987/88 to the lowest production of 38,620 tonnes in 2016/17.
Speaking at General Kassam Stadium Kianyaga, Kirinyaga County during this year’s International Coffee Day celebrations on Monday, Tuimur said that the country is experiencing a huge drop of land under coffee from estimated 160,000 hectares (Ha) to current 114,000 Ha, a situation he said had contributed to low production.
If the trend continues, he added, coffee production in the country will continue to deep and threaten more than 200,000 people depending on coffee for employment. He said that to mitigate the problem the government has taken firm and deliberate action to bring the black gold back to profitability.
“From providing subsidies such as fertiliser, the government has also scrapped four per cent Ad valorem levies which has been leveled on clean coffee,” said Tuimur.
He revealed that money will be set aside in the budget for a revolving fund to break systematic payment delays that farmers experience. This year’s coffee day celebration was aimed at celebrating women for their good work in coffee production.
He at the same time asked farmers from the 31 coffee-growing counties to stop uprooting coffee to plant other crops. Tuimur assured them that good tidings are in the offing.
He said the government is moving fast to intervene on the worrying trend of coffee production decline despite demand at the world market. “We are carrying out trials in three counties, Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Meru, by giving farmers 100 per cent subsidised fertiliser to shore up coffee production,” he said.
He challenged the farmers to increase productivity now that the crop will be traded at the commodity exchange.