Kenya plans to boost roast­ing cof­fee beans to lift earn­ings

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Kenya plans to in­crease cof­fee roast­ing and is en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to link up with for­eign part­ners who can help build mar­kets abroad, to add value to its raw bean ex­ports that are a ma­jor source of for­eign ex­change. Kenya grows just 1 per­cent of the world’s cof­fee a year, but punches above its weight in qual­ity as many global firms seek its ara­bica beans to blend with lower qual­ity va­ri­eties.

How­ever, most of its pro­duce is ex­ported as cleaned beans and just 5 per­cent is roasted, so Kenya misses out on the added value from sell­ing roasted and pack­aged cof­fee.

Kenya pro­duced 45,000 tons of beans in the 2015/16 sea­son and fore­casts out­put of 50,000 tons in 2016/17. It is seek­ing to raise the amount of cof­fee roasted lo­cally by 5 to 10 per­cent an­nu­ally over the next five years, Richard Le­siyampe, prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary for agri­cul­ture, told Reuters.

“Any value ad­di­tion that can give us more money, that is the di­rec­tion we want to take. We should ac­tu­ally go to 50 per­cent if pos­si­ble,” he said. “It is re­ally am­bi­tious but can be done.”

In the cof­fee grow­ing re­gion of the cen­tral high­lands, Othaya Farm­ers Co-op­er­a­tive is in­stalling a roast­ing ma­chine and a grinder at a cost of 50 mil­lion shillings ($500,000) to pro­duce packed cof­fee for lo­cal re­tail and ex­port in fu­ture.

The aim is boost earn­ings for the co-op­er­a­tive’s 15,000 farm­ers, who now earn a max­i­mum of 78 shillings per kg on the best qual­ity raw beans but could earn 100 shillings af­ter roast­ing, co-op­er­a­tive chair­man James Gathua told Reuters. While a 50-kg bag of top grade AA cof­fee fetches about $500 at the weekly auc­tion in Nairobi, a bag of lower grade cof­fee goes for about $150. But ex­perts say the value of this lower grade cof­fee can be dou­bled when roasted.

“Op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist for pri­vate part­ner­ships with roast­ers abroad, who have ex­pressed in­ter­est in in­vest­ing in roast­ing ma­chin­ery in Kenya,” Kenya’s in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor, the Cof­fee Direc­torate, said in re­sponse to ques­tions. Among the new en­trants, Den­mark’s African Cof­fee Roast­ers (ACR) set up a roast­ing fa­cil­ity this year.

For now, lo­cal roast­ing is dom­i­nated by C. Dor­man Ltd, which op­er­ates a chain of cof­fee shops in Kenya and also ex­ports to for­eign mar­kets, and Java House, which has a fast grow­ing chain of cof­fee shops and restau­rants that is ex­pend­ing be­yond Kenya.

Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta launched a study this year into ways of re­vive cof­fee pro­duc­tion, now roughly half out­put at its peak in the 1980s.

Grow­ers want the govern­ment to sup­port pro­duc­ers in­clud­ing by re­mov­ing duty on roast­ing ma­chines. “If the govern­ment can sup­port us, the por­tion of lo­cally roasted cof­fee can go to 10 per­cent in the next three years,” said Matthew Mugo, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Gib­sons cof­fee Co. —Reuters

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