KENYA – The Kenyan government in partnership with the World Bank has launched phase one of coffee revitalization project to a tune of Ksh 1.5 billion (US$13.9m) concessional loan in two years that will focus on increasing coffee production in 8 growing areas.

The programme will cover Kiambu, Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Machakos, Embu, Tharaka Nithi and Meru Counties.

Speaking during the launch of the project, Agriculture livestock, Fisheries and Cooperative Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya said the programme will not only increase coffee production but will improve efficiency of farmer cooperatives, support research development and technology as well as development of alternative coffee markets.

The CS says they started with these counties as they account for 70% of the coffee produced in the country and have potential for quick wins through productivity increased.

He added that the 8 Counties have agreed to inject additional money to the project depending on the amount of coffee each produces. The big producers will contribute Kshs. 100 million (US$0.93m) while the least will contribute Kshs. 50 million (US$0.46m).

The programme will be undertaken through ongoing World Bank projects, namely the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NAGRIP) and the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP).

CS Munya confirmed that 20 per cent of the fund will be committed to provision of subsidized fertilizer and propagation of seeds and distribution of coffee planting materials.

In addition to that, Ksh 900 million (US$8.3m) accounting 60 percent will be used to finance enhancing of efficiency of primary coffee processing infrastructure and quality of coffee through automation of cooperative systems and modernization equipment.

The CS added that 10 per cent representing Ksh150 million (US$1.39m) will strengthen cooperatives institution and Governance and other 10 percent will support integration of data base, monitoring and backstopping.

The CS called upon County Governments, state agencies and all stakeholders to support the cause and ensure resources are well utilized and the coffee subsector regains its former glory of being the leading foreign exchange earner in the country.

Kenya has an estimated 700,000 small holder growers and 3,000 coffee estates involved in coffee production within 33 coffee producing Counties.

The governments initiatives come even as the country has had challenges and experiencing a steady decline of coffee production from 130,000 Metric tonnes of clean coffee to an average of 40,000 metric tonnes annually coupled with low productivity of 2kgs tree per year against an annual potential of 35kgs /tree.

The CS says the programme will be implemented in the spirit of implementing the recommendations of the coffee task force of 2016 that was appointed by the President.

The World Bank (WB) fund comes one year after the Ksh 3 billion (US$27.9m) coffee cherry advance revolving fund that was launched by the Government to support farmers largely to boost production.

The fund is currently being advanced to growers at a modest rate of three per cent by the New Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (NKPCU).