By Francis Mwema, January 27, 2023, Nandi County government has launched a massive campaign to revive and promote coffee growing in the region as a reliable source of livelihood.
This comes after the coffee farmers in the region dropped the crop early last year decrying exploitation by brokers who bought the crop directly from them at throwaway prices.
According to Nandi County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture and Cooperatives (CECM) Kiplimo Arap Lagat, strategies have been put in place to expand coffee production in suitable agro- ecological zones in the North and South coffee belts, which includes specific regions with higher potential in the county.
Some of the strategies include mapping, profiling, registration and training of farmers.
“The department is working closely with coffee researchers and farmers cooperatives to propagate over 2 million seedlings this year,” he said.
The Northern coffee belt region include Chepterwai, Ndalat, Kipkaren, Kabisaga and Lelmokwo while Southern part encompasses Ol’lessos, Kapchorwa, Tinderet, SonghorSoba, Kapsimotwo among others.
He said the county government has identified coffee as a key economic transformation agenda and residents will be supported to exploit its production to alleviate poverty
Farmers in the region who depended on coffee growing for years dropped the crop and adopted other agricultural economic activities as the berries turned unprofitable, amid exploitation by brokers who bought the crop directly at throw away prices.
“Inconsistent coffee prices and the brutal invasion of brokers into the once lucrative sector in the region led to poor market prices forcing farmers to uproot the crop and diversify to other crops,” pointed out John Kiptoo one of the coffee farmers.
The CECM encouraged farmers to soldier on adding that they should not let challenges and cartels kick them out of business.
Dr Lagat also stated that the department is also supporting the development of high yielding value chains such as dairy farming, avocado growing and tea farming in the Central belt.
The regions include Mosop, Emgwen, Aldai, Chesumei and Nandi hills sub counties.
The region has less than 10 active cooperative societies down from more than twenty a few years back. Kabunyeria coffee cooperative society in Tinderet Sub County with over 1,500 farmers is the oldest entity in the county. Others include Kipkechem and Chepsait Coffee farming in the region started back in the early 1960s, flourishing years thereafter after being introduced by the British government before just before independence.
Between the years of 1990 and 2000, Nandi region was the leading producer of coffee in Kenya.