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Kenya’s coffee is evolving and becoming more sustainable

By George Watene

In preparations to the 124th International Coffee Organization meeting in Nairobi on 20th March 2019, the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, noted that “Coffee is one of Kenya’s key cash crops, but, unfortunately, it has been facing various challenges. There is need to streamline the sector and bring it back to high production levels and ensure our farmers fully benefit from growing this cash crop.”

The Kenya Coffee Platform has responded this call by aligning efforts to ensure a more sustainable coffee sector. The Platform has also facilitated evidence-based decision and policy making with several initiatives since it was founded last year. As an example, the recent study on economic viability of coffee has shown where value is lost or could be gained in the value chain for the farmer. This study noted that improved productivity and efficiency at the cooperative level could lead to coffee farmers being more economically viable. Consequently, the knowledge necessary to increase production has been reproduced by numerous players leading at times to misstatement old technology’s replication at additional cost. The need to be more efficient led to bringing together major coffee training providers (public and private) to align and address the gaps present in all coffee training material in Kenya. As a result, a harmonized and more aligned Kenya Coffee Sustainability Manual was created to facilitate training sessions for 530 providers who became trainer of trainers on the harmonized module. These trainers represented Government, cooperative and private training providers. The latest knowledge on coffee production and processing in Kenya should be available to all partners investing in reaching farmers to help improve production and profitability along the value chain.

The Global Coffee Platform believes that all these efforts by different partners will become more effective if a continuous monitoring process can be set in motion towards a more sustainable and farmer beneficial coffee sector.

While developing the training material, the experts also noted indicators that would proof if there is progress after different farmer interventions are carried out. This practice of adoption indicators, together with the coffee industry common indicators, would serve to determine how the efforts on farmers are becoming fruitful and to what extent the farmers are contributing to improve coffee farming and make it the first fully sustainable crop in the near future. Baselines were carried out on 256 farmers, using the digital collection tool GCP progress, and it is hoped that, as the farmers continue to be trained, their efforts will be continually tracked. The tracking process was also very well received by young farmers, who will improve their skills and produce better coffee by learning from the collected information.

These efforts rely heavily on the collaboration between partners and ensuring that all resources are aligned. The activities mentioned are generously supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, who, as a federally owned enterprise, supports the German Government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development.

Join the Kenyan Coffee Platform and support their efforts to make sustainable coffee thrive in the country. Click here to contact George Watene, GCP Program Manager, and don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter.