Uasin Gishu Coffee Farmers Optimistic of Better Days Ahead
Farmers in Uasin Gishu that ventured into coffee farming have already started reaping from the fruits of heeding to the diversification calls.
While farmers have been planting maize since time immemorial, most of them have faced many challenges among them poor prices and high cost of production.
But with the onset of devolution, the county Government of Uasin Gishu introduced a program in which it provided farmers with free coffee seedlings.
According to County Executive Member for Agriculture Edward Sawe, the program was first introduced in 2016 and to date over 850,000 seedlings have been distributed.
In total the county has about 1.3 million coffee bushes distributed among 1,300 farmers that have embraced coffee farming.
Cecilia Keiy is one of the farmers that ventured into farming at time the county was asking them to.
“I started coffee farming in 2018 and we’re among the pioneers that year,” Keiy, a farmer in Kipsamo, Kapseret Sub County says.
She is currently picking her cherries and so far, the journey has been good.
“We had challenges but we’re seeing there is hope we will get something good as we go ahead,” says the farmer who has harvested a number of times.
But 2023 is her first major harvest.
Alex Arusei, another farmer in Kapseret says returns on coffee are far higher than what he has been getting from maize.
Arusei has planted maize for the last 30 years but he has had nothing to show for.
However, with barely three years of coffee farming, he has already bought a motorbike.
“Coffee pays. I have been a maize farmer for between 20 to 30 years but I have never bought anything. However with coffee, I already have a motocycle and I see myself getting my first car soon,” the farmer says.
With more and more farmers getting into coffee, the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) has been training them on processes that their coffee goes through from the time they are picked until they reach the market.
Moses Wanduasi, the New KPCU North Rift Manager says they have so far trained at least 800 farmers in the county.
“There is a lot of potential in coffee farming here because we have enough land,” Wanduasi says.
Aside from being trained on coffee processes, the New KPCU is also sensitizing farmers on the Cofee Cherry Revolving Fund that allow farmers to access credit with no interest rate as they await their produce to be sold.
Over Ksh3 billion has been set aside for the fund across the country.
In Uasin Gishu, over Ksh200,000 has been distributed to farmers.
“We had issues in disbursement of the funds due to Covid-19 as there were no farmers meetings but now that we’re back to operations, we expect uptake to increase,” said Sheila Wamboi, officer in charge of new KPCU Cofee Cherry Advanced Revolving Fund.
Uasin Gishu Agriculture CECM says, this year, coffee farmers in Uasin Gishu are estimated to produce about 120,000 kilograms of clean coffee with a market value of Ksh60 million.