Boost for Kirinyaga coffee farmers as county government implements Coffee Revitalization Program (CRP)
Coffee farmers in Kirinyaga County are set to reap big as the county government implements a massive revitalization program in the sector. The program whose objective is increasing coffee production and productivity within smallholder systems targets 18 coffee factories within seven Farmers’ Cooperative Societies in the county.
The program focuses on having government and private driven coffee sector that implements farmer centric and whole value chain driven interventions that will deliver quick wins with rapid impact. The selected factories will undergo modernization through installation of modern eco pulping equipment, metallic coffee drying beds, coffee sorting sheds, coffee seedlings nursery, expansion of coffee conditioning bins as well as tilling of fermentation tanks and solar driers, depending on individual factory needs. The county government will also carry out capacity building of farmers and Cooperative Societies Management teams, the youth and extension officers as well as facilitate access to fertilizer subsidy and coffee seedlings. The benefiting factories have been drawn from seven farmers cooperatives namely Mutira, Ngiriambu, Baragwi, Karithathi, Rung’eto, Mwirua, Kabare.
Governor Anne Waiguru has said that through Wezesha Kirinyaga economic stimulus program, her administration is committed to empowering farmers to increase agricultural productivity with the aim of increasing their incomes. She noted that while the county has been supporting farmers to diversify their practice, the traditional cash crops such as coffee and tea have not been left behind since they have a great potential in turning around the county’s economy. She said that modernization of coffee factories will increase efficiency and cut on production costs translating to more earnings for farmers.
Julius Muriuki, the Vice Chairman of Mwirua Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Ndia, said that farmers are highly anticipative of the benefits from the program. Their selected factory, Karia-ini, will benefit from a modern eco pulping machine, metallic drying beds and a modern coffee seedlings nursery. He said that the eco pulping machine which uses less electricity and water will enhance efficiency in coffee pulping and enable the farmers save on water and electricity. “It is also faster and thus will pulp double the amount of coffee pulped by the old machine at one given time” said the vice chairman.
He added that availability of coffee nursery will enable them produce high yielding seedlings for sale to farmers in the cooperative society with an aim of increasing the number of coffee bushes in the area which will in return increase production. “Demand for high yielding varieties of coffee is very high and we aim to bridge that gap by propagating our own seedlings at the factory for distribution among our farmers” he said. He thanked the County Government for their input in revitalizing the coffee sector which he said had the potential of improving the living standards of the residents.
Francis Karimi, the Chairman of Mutira Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Kirinyaga Central said that Kiangundu Coffee Factory will get an Eco Pulper, an expanded conditioning bin and a modern coffee seedlings nursery. He said that the modern eco pulper has a capacity of pulping 5 tons of coffee per hour as opposed to the 3 tons pulped by the traditional machines. He said that the modern machine will produce up to 98% of properly pulped berries as opposed to the traditional machines that nips more berries thus reducing the quantity of well pulped berries. This will lead to improvement of the quality of coffee being processed at the factory level and reduce the cost of production translating to more income for farmers.
Karimi added that the replacement of wooden coffee drying beds with metallic ones will save factories a substantial amount of money used for routine maintenance of the wooden ones. “We have been carrying out repairs on the wooden beds every season but with metallic ones, we will save that money for the benefit of the farmer” said Mr. Karimi, adding that the metallic beds also allow for proper drying of coffee. He said that with various interventions, the cooperative aims at increasing coffee production from around 4kg to 10 kg per tree.
Kirinyaga County produces an average of 40,000 tons of coffee annually earning farmers around Ksh. 2.8 billion. Most of the coffee is produced by small holder farmers who collectively sell through their Cooperative Societies.