- Title: Kenyan farmers want to roast their coffee beans to lift earnings.
- Date: 11th November 2016
- Summary: NAIROBI, KENYA, (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF AUCTIONEER AT NAIROBI COFFEE EXCHANGE ELECTRONIC TRADING BOARD VARIOUS OF TRADERS
- Embargoed: 26th November 2016 15:41
- Keywords: Coffee Roasting Branding Value Addition Foreign Exchange Markets
- Location: OTHAYA AND NAIROBI, KENYA
- City: OTHAYA AND NAIROBI, KENYA
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Commodities Markets,Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA0025801BH3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: 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 produced 45,000 tonnes of beans in the 2015/16 season and forecasts output of 50,000 tonnes 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, according to the agriculture ministry.
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 to boost earnings for the co-operative's 15,000 farmers.
James Gathua is the co-operative chairman.
"If we take our coffee through the value addition process and we are able -- we get market, the issue here is the market. If we get the market that is domestic market coffee, the payment will be higher than the prices we are getting right now. If we are able to sell or roast our coffee or value add our coffee let's say to a tune of 50 percent of what we are producing I think the farmers can get 100 shillings (0.96 USD) and above, if we are able to market that coffee," he said.
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.
The cooperative also plans to package and sell its own coffee locally and abroad in future and earn more.
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.
"We will be doing the branding here branding is now taking coffee of this grade and another grade, the good grades of course and then we roast that coffee after roasting that coffee we put it in the packet after it has been put in the packet after its roasted and packed, now we will be selling it to our supermarkets. Right now we are selling coffee even in our headquarters there we have a lot of coffee we are selling even here in the mill those who come here they buy the coffee even if you want to buy the coffee you will buy from this source. Otherwise we have been outsourcing but when we have this plant know we shall be able to take it to other supermarkets even around the town they are looking for the same coffee," said Gathua.
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 expanding beyond Kenya.
Growers want the government to support producers including by removing duty on roasting machines.
"When the machines roast and grind the coffee, adding value to it, and then the coffee is sold in supermarkets and elsewhere, we can see we will also be able to benefit," said coffee farmer, John Mwangi.
Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta launched a study this year into ways of reviving coffee production, now roughly at half the output of its peak in the 1980s.
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