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Kenya’s Coffee Export Boom Signals Revival: A Promising Start to 2024

In the heartlands of Kenya, where lush green fields stretch as far as the eye can see, a remarkable resurgence is brewing. January saw a staggering surge in Kenyan coffee exports, nearly doubling from the previous month’s figures. This significant uptick not only signals a revival but also underscores the enduring global appeal of Kenya’s famed coffee.

According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), January witnessed a remarkable leap in coffee exports, totaling a robust 2,685 tonnes. This surge marks a stark turnaround from December’s export performance, which had plummeted to its lowest ebb in over two decades, standing at a mere 1,478 tonnes. The spike in export volume translated into a commendable 72 percent rise in revenues, soaring from KES 1.2 billion (US$9.1M) to KES 2.1 billion (US$15.85M).

Kenyan coffee’s stellar reputation for quality continues to allure discerning buyers globally, with roasters and blenders clamoring for its distinctive flavor profile. The international prices it commands serve as a benchmark for local pricing, driving transactions at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange.

Nevertheless, amidst these triumphs, Kenya’s coffee sector grapples with challenges as many farmers pivot towards more lucrative ventures like real estate and avocado farming. Recognizing the urgency for revitalization, the government is taking proactive steps to breathe new life into the industry.

One such endeavor includes the proposed direct settlement system, aimed at expediting and ensuring transparent payment of coffee sales proceeds. Additionally, a substantial allocation of US$37.72 million is earmarked to bolster coffee farming, with a focus on supporting smallholder farmers. This initiative seeks to guarantee a minimum return of KES 80 (US$0.50) per kilo, a notable increase from the previous KES 60 (US$0.38).

The Coffee Bill 2023 stands as another cornerstone in the sector’s rejuvenation efforts, aiming to streamline regulatory processes and enhance research through the Coffee Research Institute. By consolidating regulatory and commercial roles under the Coffee Board of Kenya, the bill sets the stage for a more agile and responsive industry.

Furthermore, the recent designation of coffee as a strategic crop for Africa by the African Union during its 37th Summit underscores the region’s commitment to revitalizing coffee farming. Resolutions from the summit emphasize promoting value addition within the continent and curtailing the export of raw coffee beans to boost farmer incomes and combat historical exploitation.

As Kenya’s coffee sector embraces reform and innovation, the dawn of 2024 heralds a promising era of growth and resilience. With concerted efforts from stakeholders and the unwavering spirit of its farmers, Kenya’s coffee industry is poised to reclaim its stature as a global powerhouse, one aromatic brew at a time.

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