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Kenya’s black gold makes a comeback

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A bright future beckons coffee farmers after the government outlined measures aimed at reviving the sector. The industry, which was once a key pillar of the country’s economy, has over the years faced challenges ranging from poor management, high cost of inputs, poor payments as a result of infiltration by cartels and middlemen forcing many farmers to abandon the crop in favour of other profitable ventures.

Once known as as Kenya’s ‘black gold’ and leading foreign exchange earner, coffee has been reduced to a mere cash crop that carries bad memories for many households and farmers in Central Kenya.

However, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mwangi Kiunjuri says there is a glimmer of hope that the ailing industry will be back on its feet with the new partnership between agriculture and trade ministries together with coffee growing counties.

He said the government had tasked the agriculture ministry with issues of development, trade ministry with promotion and marketing and counties to ensure cooperatives are managed well.

Speaking yesterday while opening this year’s Nyeri ASK show at Kabirui-ini grounds, Mr Kiunjuri said the government was committed to the revival of the sector to ensure it retains its contribution to the economy as well as creates jobs.

READ ALSO: NYERI LADY RISES FROM HOUSE GIRL TO DEPUTY GOVERNOR

The collaboration seems to be bearing fruit in Nyeri with the county government having stepped in by procuring 100,000 bags of lime to be distributed to coffee farmers in a bid to regulate soil acidity that has affected productivity.

To motivate farmers by cutting on the cost of production, Mr Kiunjuri announced that the government had procured fertilizers worth Ksh1.3 billion for the coming short rain season. He said the fertilizer will be sold to farmers at a subsidized cost of Ks1,500 for a 50 kilogrammes bag.

“We have put measures in place to ensure that only coffee farmers benefit from this fertilizer subsidy,” said the CS, adding that the support would also be extended next year.

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He said the move will go a long way in pushing coffee production from the current 40 metric tonnes per year to the envisaged 100 metric tonnes in the coming four years. To further boost production, Mr Kiunjuri said the government had also embarked on a programme of issuing new varieties of coffee seedlings that are high yielding as well as drought and disease resistant.

He announced that plans were under way to distribute two million seedlings in the coming short rain season even as he urged encouraged farmers to adopt new farming techniques to increase production and profitability. [By Samuel Waititu / KNA)

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