The high cost of production and labor has led to a decline in the production of coffee in Kenya from 130 million tonnes to 40 million tonnes annually.
According to the Council of Governors, the decline is likely to be experienced even further due to a weak regulatory framework in the Coffee sector that could help address the issue.
Oppression of coffee farmers by cartels controlling the sectors has also been mentioned among the challenges affecting production.
The coffee issue came about during a two-day conference for governors from coffee growing counties, Government officers and members of the Coffee Taskforce.
The Chairman of the CoG Agriculture committee Stephen Sang said they had agreed to urgently undertake legal reforms in the sector terming the crop as crucial to the economy hence the need to revive the sector that employs thousands of Kenyans.
“We have agreed on various interventions that will be carried out by the national and county governments as we are currently doing badly in terms of production,” said Mr. Stephen Sang.
Mr. Sang said that one of the solutions to the problems being faced by the coffee sector as a three-year subsidy programme that would see the farmers get inputs at affordable prices.
Kenyan coffee is the most preferred across the globe. Kenyan coffee, known for its strong aroma and unique taste, is a much sought after brand globally as it is used to blend other brands from other countries like Ethiopia and Uganda.
Coffee exports increased by 15 percent in the crop season through September 2016 to 44,000 tonnes. Kenya’s mainly rain-fed agriculture makes up about a quarter of the 7 trillion-shilling economy.
The sector contributed 3.9 percent growth to a gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2016 after tea and coffee output fell, compared with 5.5 percent a year earlier, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
The coffee industry has been one of the key pillars of Kenya’s economy since independence. It is one of the major cash crops in Kenya, coming third after tea and horticultural produce.
The sector has been a significant earner of foreign exchange for the economy and provider of jobs.
However, the exposure of the industry to the world economy and other emerging challenges at home provide policymakers with a huge task to ensure this sector retains its relevance and importance to Kenya’s economy.
The highest coffee production figures in the country were recorded in 1987/88 when 128,926 tonnes of clean coffee was produced. This has been consistently reducing to the slightly above 40,000 metric tonnes produced in the last season — 2011/2012.
The importance of the coffee sector in Kenya’s economy is reflected in the direct relationship between sector performance and key economic indicators.