Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trans Nzoia records major growth in coffee farming


Coffee farming in Trans Nzoia County is recording major growth, with the region leading in the purchase of the crop’s planting materials in Kenya, the Coffee Research Foundation (CRF) has said.

CRF’s director of research Joseph Kimemia said the region rates high according to national statistics with the purchase of planting materials being at 6.6 per cent, which translates to an annual planting rate of about 0.5 million seedlings.

“Trans Nzoia has come out as the leading region in the country embracing coffee farming, according to our statistics,” Dr Kimemia said during a field day at Kitale Coffee Research Centre.

He attributed the rise to availability of land in the region, in addition to favourable annual rainfall patterns, compared with Central Kenya, the leading producer of the crop, but which is facing pressure on land from the housing industry.

“Trans Nzoia has large tracts of land favourable for coffee farming, unlike other parts of the country that are experiencing pressure on land due to settlement and establishment business premises,” he said.

Shilling’s fall

CRF board of directors chairman Kaburu M’Ribu cited last year’s weakening of the Kenyan shilling against other currencies as the major reason for the dismal performance of the crop’s export returns.

“Coffee farmers should not worry that world prices have gone down as the situation was affected by poor performance of the shilling against the US dollar,” he said.

The chairman challenged farmers in the region to take advantage of availability of large tracts of land to increase their production

“Take advantage of the land to up your produce since the performance of coffee farming is pegged on volume and quality of production,” he advised.

The officials, however, said they were not asking farmers in the region to shun maize planting for coffee, but were instead urging them to diversify.