From just 300 kilos of coffee cherries in 2012 to 2,000 kilos in 2016, Duncan Kamau, a resident of Gituara village in Embu County has no regret for saying his veterinary degree is just but a mere paper.
He followed his heart when he realised he could not get a job with his university education, and in that short period he has seen income from his half-acre plot under coffee, rise from Sh18,000 per season from 2012 to fetch Sh150, 000 in 2016. The yield increased progressively with an additional 150 kilos to 450 in 2013 and 500 in 2014.
Kamau said the yield leapt 400 kilos to 900 kgs in 2015 before it hit 2,000 last year. “I started coffee farming in 2012 when I realised that even with my veterinary degree I could not get formal employment.
Today, I am proud of my little achievements because I made a firm decision,” he told Business Hub recently during a tour of coffee farms in the area. He has built himself a good house by village standards, an iron sheet roofed residence with a solar power panel installed.
The 35-year-old father of one, has also bought an exotic dairy cow. It is almost calving. “I have also bought a motorbike which I use to run quick errands. I have improved my coffee production,” he added.
On her part, Grace Njura took a voluntary early retirement, and at 34 years old, she received her ‘golden handshake’ package which included a salary, pension and other benefits as a civil servant. She immediately ventured into farming.
“I cut down many stems of bananas and planted coffee. Today I am reaping from this move,” she says. The health statistician is one of the beneficiaries of a Nestle Nescafe Plan Programme bringing on board 42,000 coffee farmers allied to 12 Farmers’ Co-operative Societies (FCSs) in Nyeri, Murang’a, Embu, Kirinyaga, Kiambu and Meru counties.
“Before the programme started in 2011, I used to get 500 to 1,000 kgs of coffee cherries, but now I deliver about 2,000 kilos to Murue Farmers’ Co-operative Society during good harvest,” she said.
Kamau and Njura are calling on the youth to take coffee farming seriously. Fortunes in coffee farming are expected to rise following the announcement of one of the best coffee payouts in five years for Nestlé’s Nescafé Plan programme in Kenya.
Over 42,000 farmers, who are part of the Nescafé Plan programme and members of the 12 FCSs, received a total of Sh630 million which was paid in May for 7.3 million kgs of cherry that was delivered by the farmers.
On average, the societies paid their farmers Sh87 per kg compared to an average of Sh42 paid five years ago. Speaking during a visit to Murue FCS, Nestlé Equatorial Africa Region Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Brinda Chiniah commended the farmers’ keenness on the training offered to them under the Nescafé Plan which was part of the reason for the increased production of premium grade AA, AB and PB coffee.