Meru County is one of the best producers of quality coffee worldwide; with a developed brand it would earn farmers more income. The Meru government supports this branding that will enable the farmers to earn more from their produce.
Coffee is Kenya’s fifth foreign exchange earner after tourism, tea, horticulture, etc. In Meru, the area under coffee production spans from the border with Embu County along the slopes of Mt. Kenya, to wetter and warmer Nyambene ranges.
According to Sip Coffee, the meru county agricultural extension officers and other provate service providers have been helping farmers to increase productivity. The experts advise farmers on farm management, how to maintain soil fertility, pest control and water managemenet and crop husbandry. In 2014, Meru County Coffee Millers Union was formed to address the farmer’s needs. Through the union, they were able to increase their income from sales from sh 60 per kilo of ripe berries to sh 130.
This increase was also influenced by the county government after they took over the milling and selling of the berries. The miller helps the farmers to get more profit as the county takes charge of value addition and marketing of all the coffee from Meru. Even though the price of coffee is based on international markets, those who brand and add value will end up earning more.
Cartels were deceiving farmers but have been briefed through seminars organized by the Meru County government. Other challenges facing the farmers were also addressed including access to farm inputs, fertilizers and seedlings. This was tackled by farmers being granted loans so as to get fertilizer and on research being carried out on different types of soils in the county to identify the best seedlings for different areas.
Factory efficiency can be increased by not disposing coffee pulp as a waste product but to harness it to generate Biogas, farm manure, charcoal briquettes and electricity that can be used to run the factories. The major objective of Meru County Government is to attract best markets for raw and processed agricultural products. This can only be achieved through market agencies partnering with it so as to develop a valuable brand for its coffee through provision of certification of services, branding, and custom made packaging services.