Kenya: Coffee Farmers Bet on Technology

After the failure of government policies to lift the coffee industry from the brink, farmers are now turning to technology to increase their profits.

From smart drying to new digestion technologies, farmers want to transform the value chain with methods that reduce costs and increase income.

The Gchatha Coffee Farmers’ cooperative expects to save a third of its total production costs annually after purchasing an eco-digesting machine, which amounts to Sh2 million.

“The eco-pulper will help us produce improved grades of coffee that will be shared. The one we used produces cut beans … That means farmers make more money,” said Peter Mathenge, chairman of the cooperative. The eco pulper was acquired through funding from the European Union and Coffee Management Services (CMS), its coffee marketer.

Mr Mathenge said farmers are now making more than the Sh100 per kilo of coffee. “The technology will save water and energy and add more income to our farmers,” he said.

CMS CEO Kamau Kuria said that while the old digestion system used 20 liters of water to process one kilo of coffee, the eco-pulper will use two liters.

“This is a turning point in the coffee industry as it will save a lot for farmers as it has a capacity of five tons of coffee in an hour. It also requires fewer staff, ”he said. “We also hope that the coffee farmers will bring in more money this year than last year due to the favorable weather, which promotes good flowering and ripening of the coffee,” said Kamau.