Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
NAIROBI – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday announced measures aimed at reforming the coffee sector in the country. Kenyatta, who opened the 124th Session of the International Coffee Council (ICO) in Nairobi, said the reforms are designed to boost production, reduce the cost of processing and milling as well as transaction costs at the auction market. 

He said coffee farmers will be able to access payments from a 3 billion shillings (30 million U.S. dollars) cherry advance revolving fund starting from July, under which the farmers get cash upon delivery of their crop to respective factories instead of the norm where they have to wait for months.

 "All coffee farmers across the country will be able to access the cherry advance at a modest interest rate of 3 percent," Kenyatta said. The Kenyan leader said that the coffee sector will be liberalized to usher in a new era of direct marketing by cooperative societies. 

"All coffee co-operatives will be required to present audited annual reports to the agriculture cabinet secretary within six months of every calendar year, with a simultaneous release to the entire membership of the respective society and the public," he said. 

The president said that there are further plans to help reduce the cost of processing and milling as well as ensure that youths and women are included in the coffee production. 

"Despite the premium prices that Kenyan coffee fetches internationally, the profits do not trickle down to the farmers," he said. Kenyatta also announced plans to rehabilitate 500 pulping factories in 31 coffee growing counties, besides investment in availing of quality planting material and in research and extension services. 

He said that part of the plan is to engage in aggressive marketing of coffee globally to increase Kenya's market share in Europe, the United States and the emerging Asian markets.