KENYA- The Government of Kenya has revealed plans to upgrade 72 coffee factories through the Coffee Revitalization Programme (CRP) aimed at addressing challenges crippling the coffee sector.
President Ruto confirmed this plan while opening the 2023 Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) Nairobi International Trade Fair.
He further revealed that the government had plans to provide farmers with seedlings and fertilizer at subsidized prices.
This, according to the head of state, will help increase coffee production from the current 50,000 metric tonnes to 102,000 metric tonnes annually by 2027.
President Ruto also assured the farmers that he has put forward strategies to prevent wastage, inefficiency, and corruption to ensure that they benefit from their crops.
With increased population accompanied by stagnating agricultural productivity, the president noted that the rural areas are the most affected by the high cost of living and high level of poverty.
He also observed that food production had failed to meet demand exposing the country to imports, creating increased trade deficits, and increased food prices accounting for 54 percent of household expenditure. He affirmed that increasing agricultural productivity will resolve the issue.
“Low productivity, responsible for deficits in essential agricultural produce, is responsible for high importation, which depletes our foreign exchange and deepens the negative trade balance, worsening the economic situation,” he stated.
President Ruto recognized the important role that agriculture plays in the economy as it employs 70% of the population and contributes 25% of the Gross Development Product (GDP) and another 25% indirectly.
The head of state however noted that low earnings in the sector undermine the capacity of households to withstand the cost of living, deepening poverty.
By utilizing the full agricultural potential, the country stands to mitigate dependence on food imports, protect foreign exchange, and get insulated from vulnerability to international price shocks.
“We remain most globally competitive in agriculture, both in traditional crops like tea, coffee, cut flowers and vegetables, as well as emerging export crops such as macadamia and avocado,” he added
Apart from coffee, President Ruto also touched on the sugar sector noting that the government is putting measures in place to ensure farmers in the sugar belt also get to reap from their produce.
He reiterated that the sugar sector is among his priority areas for national development, wealth creation, and employment creation, adding that he was holding talks with leaders from the cane-growing region and devising ways to improve the sugar sector.
He expressed his willingness to solve challenges like aging mills, high indebtedness of sector institutions, diminishing soil fertility, competition for land, low uptake of researched varieties of cane, and low use of fertilizer.
Kirinyanga County to support coffee farmers
Meanwhile, Kirinyaga governor, Ann Waiguru has initiated the Wezesha Kirinyaga economic stimulus program aimed to complement the Coffee Revitalization Program (CRP) initiated national government.
This program targets 18 factories operated by seven Farmers’ Cooperative Societies which include Mutira, Ngiriambu, Baragwi, Karithathi, Rung’eto, Mwirua, and Kabare.
The selected factories will be equipped with modern eco-pulping equipment, metallic coffee drying beds, coffee sorting sheds, and an expansion of coffee conditioning bins. Some have coffee seedling nurseries and equipped tilling fermentation tanks and solar driers, depending on individual factory needs
The governor emphasized that the modernization of coffee factories will increase efficiency and cut production costs, translating to more earnings for farmers.