Sometimes back while in Nyeri county attending the N.I.C.E event, I met this young man from Kirinyaga county.
We were just catching up,
“So are you a coffee farmer ,or you are just attending ?” I asked him
“I am a teacher by profession and a farmer in sense that my father owns the farm and I help him manage it ” He replied
He followed to inform me that he manages their farm of about 1800 trees and producing about 7000 kgs per year, from weeding,farm inputs sourcing and application and all other processes involved in coffee farming including pulping.
“pulping?” You mean you do pulp your own coffee at home?” I asked a bit surprised since I expected him to tell me that they do it as a co-operative.
He told me that they are in a group of about 50 farmers from Kirinyaga who have come up together for purposes of attaining good quality coffee and eventually good prices- They do every process individually up to the selling point where they sell as a group.
“So, why a group of only 50 farmers and not a co-operative?” I proceeded to ask him
He informed me that in a co-operative there are farmers who do not take care of their coffee and hence they end up dragging down the quality of the coffees of other farmers who really work hard in their farms hence the reason for forming the group.
“So what do you do to ensure that no member in your group drags you behind by not keeping up with the quality required?”
He proceeded to tell me that they are a very serious group and anyone who does not keep up ends up being kicked out, “We are that serious.” He told me.
“So, now that am hearing good stories of Kirinyaga ,on the issue of coffee production being endangered here in Kenya, do you think Kirinyaga is part of that narrative?” I asked him,very interested in his answer
He proceeded to give me a stern ‘NO’. He said that over there they are very serious in their coffee farming because of groups like his and also informed me that the co-operatives over there are also very serious and do have extension officers so as to ensure good quantity and quality of their coffee
On the issue of the pay they previously got he told me that it was an okay pay a bit over one hundred shillings and expecting much better going forward.
My last question to him before proceeding to check out some small scale coffee pulping machines was if he sees himself taking over the coffee farming from his parents sometimes in the future and continuing on with it .
“Definitely.” Moses told me (Yes ,his name is Moses)