Coffee consumption in Kenya continues to record low levels compared with neighbours Ethiopia and Uganda at below 3 per cent yet it is most preferred in the foreign markets.
Despite fetching good prices in the global market, regionally, the country trails Ethiopia and Uganda who produce approximately 400, 000 metric tonnes and 200, 000 tonnes respectively per year.
Kenya produces between 45, 000 tonnes to 100, 000 MTs every year, but local consumption is at a mere 3 per cent. On the contrary, in Ethiopia, the locals consume 200, 000 tonnes of coffee every year, five times Kenya’s entire production.
However, according to Coffee Management Services (CMS) General Manager, Martin Ngare, at three cups annually per person, about 30 grams of coffee per capita, there is need for innovation since Kenya continues to attract the best coffee prices in the world.
“There is a place for coffee in Kenya. But to be able to increase our production, we must focus on addressing the challenges in the coffee sector. We need to plant the right varieties; improve our quality, access the right markets and also be able to have traceability certification,” he said.
He said currently prices for Kenyan coffee has improved to around Sh72 per kilo when productivity is over 10 kilos per tree. But when it is below 10 kilos per tree, it fetches only Sh30 and cost a small-scale farmer an estimated Sh70.
“Innovation, value addition and marketing are needed to improve foreign sales and local coffee consumption, which is below 3 per cent annually,” Ngare added.
Fairview Estate Limited has organised a coffee event dubbed; Kahawa Festifal to be held on October 27, 2018 as one of the innovative ways the firm hopes to help increase production.
With the theme; Coffee, culture and Adventure, the event will witness a number of activities geared towards promoting local coffee consumption and best ways of production.
The giant coffee estate’s Executive Director, Michael Warui said during the festival, Kenyans would celebrate coffee as a beverage, recognise growers, and promote local consumption.
The event would be characterised with fun activities including coffee tours, various family and musical entertainment. Warui said culturally, music blends well with coffee.
“We will also have latte art presentations by some of the best coffee baristas in Kenya. Ethiopians and Arabs have had the coffee drinking culture for centuries and they have a beautiful art and style of brewing and serving coffee. We will be showcasing these ceremonies too,” he added.
Warui said the coffee estate which grows berries under 150 acres of land, has opened its farm to tourists who want to learn first-hand about harvesting, processing and brewing.
“Coming to the coffee estate is like going to a winery tour in Cape Town or Naples where you walk through vineyards and sample different grapes,” he told People Daily. The estate has existed for almost 40 years now. It was established by former Kenyan ambassador to the US, Leonard Kibinge.
The farm hosted visitors from India, China, Thailand, Vietnam and the US who came and participated in picking coffee berries.
Warui said they introduced coffee tourism so that they can impart knowledge on its production and those willing to venture into agro-tourism, which is not common here in Kenya.
“Every year when the International Coffee Day is marked worldwide in October, we engage Kenyans and other international tourists through Kahawa Festival where they celebrate everything about coffee,” he added.
According to statistics compiled by the Coffee Directrorate, production of the commodity has reduced from 140, 000 tonnes annually in the 1980s to about 40, 000 tonnes in 2017.
According to a study by the International Coffee Organisation, the ICO composite indicator price reported that global coffee production has decreased by 2.9 per cent to an average of 107.20 US cents/lb, which is the lowest monthly average for July since 2007, when the monthly composite indicator reached 106.20 US cents/lb.
Prices for all coffee groups fell in July 2018, though the largest month-on-month decrease occurred for Brazilian Naturals, which declined by 4 per cent to 110.54 US cents/lb.