- This meant that farmers would be eliminating intermediaries – marketers and millers.
- But this was not to be as farmers did not have a chance to negotiate, propose or even get into any deal with the buyers.
- The farmers say no follow-ups that would benefit them were made with the foreign buyers.
Four years ago, dignitaries from across the world toured the country, eyeing coffee produced mainly in Mt Kenya region.
Thousands of farmers hoped that direct sales with overseas buyers would bring immense benefits to them if the buying prices were anything to go by.
The partnership agreements farmers entered into were hailed as a great solution to one of the problems the coffee subsector faced.
In the much hyped agreements, farmers expected to earn two times more after signing deals with the international buyers, who would buy coffee directly from their respective co-operatives.
This meant that farmers would be eliminating intermediaries – marketers and millers – along the value chain, who eat into their earnings and, at the same time, avoid the Nairobi Coffee Exchange that sells 15 percent of Kenyan coffee overseas.
But this was not to be as farmers did not have a chance to negotiate, propose or even get into any deal with the buyers.
The buyers visited Gikanda Coffee Co-operative, Rumukia and Othaya coffee societies which have managed to have their own coffee mills and promised farmers that they would spur their income through direct sales of their clean coffee.
“They had the willingness to buy our coffee and we were really anticipating to leverage our income but we have never heard anything from them since then,” said Mr Joseph Mukuha, chairman of Ndaroini Growers Association.
The dignitaries arrived in toe with officials from both the county government and the coffee directorate, led by its former interim director Glenville Miili.
They assessed the co-operatives’ infrastructure and produce, carried samples and then left.
“We just moved from one co-operative to another since we were told they were coming for an originality and traceability programme and cupping process, but since then…nothing,” noted an official from Rumukia Coffee Society.
In 2016, the Speciality Coffee Association of America (SCAA), representatives from Brazil, Hong Kong, Colombia, China and Myanmar flocked Kenya with the sole purpose of inking deals with coffee co-operatives that would see them buy coffee directly from them.
According to Mr Mukuha, the coffee buyers primarily assessed the factories and the coffee that was already harvested before pronouncing that they would buy all speciality coffee – Grade AA, AB and PB – produced in the county that fetch higher prices at the local and international markets.
But no follow-up has been made on the matter to date.
The trip was facilitated by the Nyeri County government and the Coffee Directorate of Kenya, whom farmers claim never made follow ups that would benefit them.
“They carried samples from all the factories that form the co-operatives and left for cupping at the Aberdare Country Club but they never gave feedback,” Mr Mukuha added.