By Lucy Murumba

The Coffee industry is a very crucial sector to the Kenyan economy and it is the key export earner. Over 700,000 small holder farmers representing about 5m direct dependents organized into producer cooperatives and producing 60% of the Kenyan coffees depend on it. The balance comes from the plantations (small, medium and large).

Kenya is the origin of nature’s finest coffee containing more than 800 different aromatic compounds. Kenya’s Arabica coffee grows in well drained volcanic soils mostly around the snow-capped Mt. Kenya, Aberdare Ranges, Mt. Elgon, the Kisii and Lower Eastern highlands and some areas of Rift Valley all very close to the Equator. The Coffee value chain in Kenya is dominated by small holder farmers through cooperative system at the production and primary processing level.

Smallholder coffee farmers in Kenya had for a long time wanted to market their coffee directly to buyers overseas, and to create a business relationship with their buyers but lacked the necessary linkages to do so. As such in year 2009, they came together through their Co operative Societies and established the Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters (KCCE) to explore end-to-end farming, processing and marketing of their produce. The formation of KCCE was the farmers’ vehicle to the international relationships through the direct sales approach also referred to as the “second window”, which was introduced in Kenya in 2005. The second window operates alongside
Kenya’s traditional coffee auction system.

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