Kenya-Colombia blend lessons for increased coffee production

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua when he hosted a delegation on the Kenya and Colombia technical cooperation on coffee value chain from Columbia at the official Residence in Karen, Nairobi on February 29, 2024. The delegation has been in the country for a five-day peer-to-peer review. The DP was joined Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Cooperatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Development Simon Chelugui, Colombian Ambassador to Kenya H.E Pedro Leon Cortes Ruiz, Chairperson of the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Livestock Dr. John Mutunga, and various stakeholders in the Coffee sub-sector.
Photo | DPCS

Kenya and Colombia are blending their experiences in coffee production in a partnership that is expected to give the global market the best beans from each of the two countries. The two countries started the collaboration last September in what saw a delegation led by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua visit the South American nation to pick lessons from their successes in coffee production.

Colombia is the third largest coffee producer in the world, after Brazil and Vietman, making it a perfect partner for Kenya whose production has been dwindling. The government further sent a number of farmers to the Cafes de Colombia Expo 2023 in October 19 in Bogota for lessons on coffee marketing, value addition and farming.

And in return, Kenya last week hosted a delegation from the Colombia National Federation of Coffee Growers, who visited several coffee factories and farms to familiarise with the country’s coffee industry. DP launches 53rd Huduma Centre They later held meetings with Mr Gachagua who announced that the two nations would sign agreements to facilitate knowledge-exchange on coffee farming and research.

Acknowledging that Colombia is a top global producer of high quality and premium coffee flavours, the DP said the two nations are preparing to strike a formula that will facilitate cooperation between Kenya’s Coffee Research Institute and its equivalent body in Colombia.

“The MoUs will create a framework for interventions that the government is deploying to restore the coffee sub-sector. Coffee farmers in Colombia are our big brothers.

The MoUs will be signed in the next three months,” he said. Mr Simon Chelugui, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Cooperatives and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Development, and Colombian Ambassador Pedro Leon Rui, said the visit cements the partnership between the two countries.

Mr Chelugui said through the partnership, Kenya is committed to increase its coffee production from the current 51,000 metric tonnes (MT) annually to 200,000MT by 2027. He said the government is keen to bring back the coffee glory that was in the 80s, where the cash crop was the leading foreign exchange earner. Production dwindled from a peak of 130,000MT in 1983/1984 to a low of 34,000 tonnes in 2020.

“This is an important milestone in cementing the relationship between Kenya and Colombia. We have been working together and our ties with Africa is a priority,” noted said Mr Rui. Among the places the Colambian delegation visited was the New Kenya Planters Coffee Union in Dandora, where they were taken through the process of milling, coffee cupping and cataloguing. Mr Carlos Armando Uribe, the director of Colombian-based Asuntos Gremiales Company, advised local farmers to increase the number of coffee trees per hectare from the current 3,000.

“Commitment and transparency are also needed as well government support. You also need to look for new markets in places like China, India and the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

Further, he called for enhanced participation of growers in elections of the sectoral leaders to boost “coffee democracy”. “We are a coffee-producing family. For our colleagues in Kenya, we can move together. The intention is for all of us to get better, and our families get better economically,” he stated.

Ms Wanjiku Wakogi, the Chief of Staff at the Office of the Deputy President, said the talks between the two nations are at the heart of Kenya’s economic development. “We are embarking on this wonderful chapter of cooperation between Kenya and Colombia, focused on our coffee value chains. This collaboration is not just a diplomatic gesture; it signifies a strategic partnership aimed at leveraging each other’s strengths for the mutual benefit of our coffee industries,” said Ms Wakogi.

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