KENYA – The Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) is witnessing a resurgence of activity, signalling a return to normalcy after months of disruptions caused by government-led reforms in the coffee sector, aimed at bolstering incomes for thousands of smaller farmers. 

 In the past three weekly sales, a robust 33,144 bags of coffee found buyers, raking in an impressive KSh 927.8 million (US$6.18 million), with additional bags being sold through the direct sale option. 

 This notable surge contrasts sharply with the modest 2,705 bags initially available when the auction resumed in August, following a three-month hiatus for comprehensive reforms. 

During this transitional period, numerous coffee cooperative societies chose to withhold their stocks in warehouses, citing confusion over the newly introduced coffee trading rules.  

However, concerted efforts by leaders in coffee-growing counties have played a pivotal role in advocating for the importance of the coffee auction.  

Leaders in coffee-growing counties are reported to have stepped up campaigns to encourage more cooperatives and millers to release their produce to the NCE which is currently overseen by the Capital Market Authority (CMA). 

 Furthermore, privately owned cooperatives have substantially bolstered their participation in the auction, contributing significantly to the resurgence of activities at the NCE. 

 Gikonyo, the Chair of the Kenya Coffee Producers Association, noted, “The auction floor is abuzz with increased activities as trading occurs weekly, following the delivery of more coffee from cooperatives and estates.” 

 This resurgence in trade volumes at the NCE aligns with the government’s intensified marketing efforts to attract global coffee companies to purchase Kenyan coffee.  

Notably, a groundbreaking deal has been brokered with Java, a prominent Belgian coffee giant, ensuring farmers secure direct sales, effectively eliminating brokers from the equation. 

 Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua aso recently revealed a groundbreaking agreement facilitating Kenyan coffee farmers to directly sell their produce to Starbucks Corporation, the world’s largest coffeehouse chain.  

 If successful, this deal, reportedly facilitated by American ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, could offer farmers unparalleled market access, considering Starbucks’ vast global presence with over 35,000 locations in 80 countries.